The Education column with East Riding College principal Mike Welsh: Adults can still study for free at ERC

I know a lot has changed in the funding of ‘lifelong learning’ over the years, but I wanted our Bridlington community to know that there are still courses they can study for free at East Riding College.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 12:59 pm
Mike Welsh, principal at East Riding College.
Mike Welsh, principal at East Riding College.

The provision of learning to adults has always been one of the foundations of our commitment to our community in the East Riding.

Whether people want to study to retrain for a new career, to further their knowledge and skills in the career they’re in, or whether they just have a thirst for knowledge, we have much to offer.

The Government launched the National Skills Fund in 2021 and have extended it to pay the course fees of any adult aged 19 and over, who does not already have a level 3 qualification or higher.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

East Riding College’s St Mary’s Walk campus in Bridlington.

Level 3 is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or A levels. Anyone in this category can access one of many fully funded level 3 qualifications.

In addition, from April 2022 any adult in England earning under the National Living Wage, which is the equivalent of £18,525 annually, or who is unemployed, will also be able to access one of these qualifications for free, regardless of their prior qualification level, as long as they have not previously benefited from the National Skills Fund Scheme. This is not a loan and there is nothing to pay back.

This offer is part of the Government’s long-term commitment to help everyone gain skills for life. Courses are available in a variety of lengths, to support adults to get the skills they need to boost their careers.

Courses that are eligible for the scheme range from care, counselling, leadership and management to computing and policing!

In addition to the National Skills Fund the college also offers a wide variety of free distance learning courses. These have been consistently popular and present adults with an opportunity to learn at their own pace, at their own convenience.

Distance learning courses are designed to be completed in your own time as self-study rather than in a formal teaching environment.

Students have an initial induction and ongoing help from a tutor. You are provided with learning materials and a workbook to complete.

The great thing about these courses is that you can complete them anytime and anywhere, to fit around a job or other responsibilities.

They are nationally recognised qualifications and subjects that can be studied for free with the college include: Dementia Awareness, Understanding Autism, Infection Control, Nutrition and Health, Digital Skills, Environmental Sustainability, Team Leading, Business Admin and Mental Health, to name but a few.

Furthermore, if you want to get into teaching, there are even bursaries available to trainee teachers of certain subjects, where you’ll be paid to train.

The Government are particularly encouraging people from skilled professions to teach in further education, without giving up their employment.

To find out more about any of these options, go to the college website at