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Free courses now available to adults thanks to government funding

15 June 2018

A radical adult education budget rule-change is opening the doors for low-earning adults to improve their education and career prospects, with hundreds expected to benefit across the county through Gloucestershire College.

From Wednesday 1 August, adult learners who are employed and earning less than £15,736.50 (full- or part-time) will be fully funded for Level 1 and Level 2 courses, thanks to the AEB (Adult Education Budget) policy trial for 2018-19. 

Scores of courses will be available for free via the funding at Gloucestershire College’s Cheltenham, Gloucester and Forest of Dean campuses, from professional and creative services, to engineering, trades, teaching and more. 

Currently, full funding is only available to eligible unemployed people, young people aged 19 to 23 with skills below Level 2, and adults aged 19 and above who do not have English and maths up to Level 2. A 50% contribution towards fees is currently expected from those who do not fall into these categories. 

Courses that will be available with the funding include: AAT Accounting, ACS Gas Safety, Barbering, Beauty Therapy, Counselling, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Food and Beverage Service, Hairdressing, Mechanical Engineering, Plumbing, Professional Cookery, Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (STLS) and many more. The full list of courses is available at

Andy Bates, Chief Financial Offer at Gloucestershire College, said: “This is great news for learners; a major funding change and one of the biggest changes we’ve seen for some time. We’re pleased to see the government supporting those who wish to improve their prospects, but who may have been unable to due to lack of funds. Although this is initially a trial, it paves the way for a more productive workforce and, ultimately, a better economy.”

The Department for Education said: “This will help to increase AEB participation and lift social mobility barriers to learning for those who would not otherwise engage due to course fees being unaffordable. It will also support those that are in low paid employment and are wanting to further progress in work and in their chosen career.” 

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, added: For some of us going back to school as an adult can be daunting, and for others it’s an exciting opportunity – for both it’s a chance to get new skills or even switch careers. So new government funding to help support adults on low wages hoping to learn is very good news. So I’m delighted that Gloucestershire College is offering these important courses. They’re important steps to lifting social mobility barriers and making adult learning more affordable.”

For more information, and to apply for a course, visit or call Student Services on 0345 155 2020.

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