The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) recently announced a strategy that will place working students and employers at the heart of its agenda for the higher education sector. It signalled a shift towards co-funded delivery of learning whereby employers will be expected to contribute 50% of student fees.
This is in response to growing demand for courses that give credit to a degree for "prior or experiential learning" and recognition that what employers learn in the workplace can be a part of what is accredited towards their degrees.
The Government is encouraging universities to work with employers in order to design new degree courses for their workforce, and wants 10,000 students in 2009/10 to be on courses that are co-funded by employers.
For small and medium enterprises (SMEs) this is a considerable barrier to engagement and Hefce have allocated £50 million to develop degree courses in partnership with business that will meet their specific requirements.
De Montfort University (DMU) has already established strong relationships with the regional business community through the provision of contract research, knowledge transfer, short courses and consultancy. In recognition of this success, DMU has received £4.3 million to develop the mechanisms needed to deliver co-funded courses to small businesses, representing the second largest single award.
The programme of work that this funding will support sits well alongside their existing activities and has the potential to complement and add value to their work with SMEs in areas such as design innovation, process improvement and access to capital-intensive facilities.
DMU seek to make higher-level education and training opportunities accessible to regional employers, especially those running small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to those employed full time who want to pursue such opportunities while remaining in the workforce.
Optima Training (UK) Limited is proud to have been selected by DMU to provide valuable support in establishing the processes, mechanisms and delivery teams that will ensure this programme is a success. Optima will provide interim project management services to ensure a rapid response and to facilitate effective handover to the final project delivery team.