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3 Ways to Boost Learner Enrolment in 2024

Details: Written by Kate Hutchinson |

3 ways to boost learner enrolment in 2024

Colleges, local authorities and independent training providers across the country are always looking for new and exciting ways to attract learners and ultimately maximise their funding uplift from the Adult Education Budget (AEB). This short blog will explore 3 top tips for how to expand delivery provision and attract learners with high-quality learning resources and expert solutions from The Skills Network.

Back in 2020, the adult education sector was fondly named ‘the crown’ with community learning ‘its jewel’. Fast forward to 2023 and some within the sector are reporting that adult education is no longer engaging anywhere near the number of adults it once was.

There has been a 50 per cent fall in adults taking qualifications at level 2 and below, alongside a 33 per cent fall in the number of adults taking level 3 qualifications since 2010. By 2020, that meant about four million “lost learners” with 63 per cent fewer adults in literacy and numeracy classes, according to the Learning and Work Institute.

50 per cent fall in adults taking qualifications at level 2 and below, 33 per cent fall in the number of adults taking level 3 qualifications since 2010, 63 per cent fewer adults in literacy & numeracy classes now is the time to re-invigorate your delivery

With a general election on the horizon and plenty in the policy pipeline, The Skills Network is here to support all FE providers to maximise their AEB spend and boost 2024 learner intake with expert solutions and resources.

Discover our expertly developed learning resources

Transform your delivery today

But how do you successfully market your FE provision as somewhere learners WANT to learn in 2024?

Here are 3 top tips on how to boost your student enrolment numbers 1. Offer flexible online learning  2. Expand your online course portfolio 3. Deliver up-to-date learning content

Let’s break it down-

offer flexible online learning

Tip Number 1) Offer Flexible Online Learning

This should come as no surprise.

Much of the growth we see today regarding flexible online learning delivery models can be attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many adult learning organisations to swiftly close their doors and transition to remote learning formats.

A considerable number of students, particularly those managing work alongside their studies, have since been increasingly drawn to flexible methods of online learning due to its convenience and accessibility in contrast to the traditional in-person classroom setting.

A McKinsey survey revealed that 65% of students who had been transferred to a flexible online learning model during the COVID-19 pandemic, preferred online learning for 3 key reasons:

1. Recording classes and making them available to watch later

2. Easy and free access to online study materials

3. The flexibility that allowed them to work and study

To bolster this point further, data from Growth Engineering has revealed the two most popular reasons for choosing flexible learning are ….

95% choose flexible learning so they can learn at their own pace 84% choose flexible learning to save time and cost on travelling Source: Growth Engineering

Ensuring your provision includes a flexible online learning delivery model will attract more learners and open up opportunities for students who may have otherwise been excluded to access high-quality further education.

By aligning your college or further education (FE) institution with a flexible online learning delivery model, you are casting your net wider for diversified learner intake and making adult education accessible to those who have previously encountered barriers when considering an FE learning journey.

How can The Skills Network support your flexible online learning delivery model?

With a flexible online learning delivery model, you might think that it results in a ‘hands-off’ type approach- but it couldn't be further from the truth.

Here at The Skills Network, we are committed to supporting our partners by providing dedicated account management, expert learning resources and technology that ensures quality and compliant learning experiences.

At the heart of this commitment, lies our award-winning learning management system (LMS) and dedicated e-learning platform called EQUAL.

EQUAL empowers students to access materials and resources at their convenience, progress through content at their own speed, and opt for courses aligned with their current knowledge and skills.

not all LMS platforms are built like EQUAL

EQUAL: More than just a Learning Management System (LMS)

Our cutting-edge e-learning platform brings fundamental value to all its users, helping everyone access and deliver high-quality and flexible learning.

Tip Number 2) Expand Your Online Course Portfolio

By drawing down your AEB funding, strategically expanding your regulated online learning course portfolio and introducing hybrid learning into your current curriculum, FE providers can…

1) Raise their profile within the sector

2) Attract new learners and increase enrolments

3) Gain valuable data insight

4) Futureproof their offering in an evolving further education landscape

Choosing an online or blended learning delivery method for your expanded course portfolio can open up a wealth of data-rich resources. Tutors, Curriculum Leads and Ofsted Inspectors alike can gain instant access and visibility to progress reports, learner insight and accurate GLH evidencing.

Institutions that neglect the development of a diverse range of online courses and subsequent data-driven approach may jeopardise their prospects for future growth and learner enrolments.

Creating a comprehensive online portfolio can take time and careful investment of AEB funding.

However, armed with the right expertise, FE providers can efficiently expand their online offerings with both time and cost efficiency.

Here are the initial steps an FE provider could take to expand their online course offering:

Expand your course portfolio in 3 simple steps:  1. Develop a strategic roadmap for online course expansion 2. Assess your current resources and capabilities 3. Consider support from external partners

1. Develop a strategic roadmap for online course expansion

Conduct thorough, data-driven market analyses and program planning to determine the best mix of online and hybrid programs for your organisation.

A detailed examination of your market positioning, as well as that of competitors, labour market data, and the desired prospective learner demographic, can reveal key areas of future development.

2. Assess your current resources and capabilities

Conduct a comprehensive audit of current technology, tools, systems, and resources that your organisation currently has to hand.

This audit will help identify areas where new resources or solutions may be necessary.

3. Consider support from external partners

Consider working with an external FE partner who can bring advanced expertise and resources to your provision.

Given the rapid growth in technologies supporting high-quality online learning, specialised education technology providers can offer a range of services and tools to enhance and support FE providers who wish to grow their provision and ultimately, boost learner intake.

How The Skills Network can help to expand an FE provider’s online course portfolio

The Skills Network proudly supports over 500 colleges and organisations across the UK with their unique training delivery requirements.

ESFA and The Skills Network

Being a direct contracted partner with The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for over ten years, we comprehensively understand the crucial aspects of ensuring high-quality, pedagogically oriented and compliant learning delivery.

Our course content is developed with Ofsted-aligned features for positive learner outcomes, with key characteristics such as:

  • Memory retention challenges
  • ‘Key Skills’ icons presented throughout so a learner knows when they’re being specifically challenged
  • Optional ‘stretch and challenge’ questions
  • Self-study resources
  • Transcript availability

Our industry-acclaimed Content Development Team is comprised of experienced curriculum experts, publishers, graphic designers and videographers who develop engaging course content across a broad range of topics to a diverse audience of learners.

Our extensive course portfolio can be accessed via our award-winning LMS called EQUAL which also enables providers to have instant access to learner performance data and progress reporting- making it your very own Swiss army knife for learning resources.

Looking to create bespoke online course content for your provision?

Enquire today by filling out this short form

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Maxmise your AEB funding drawdown with our fully-funded online courses including:

Check out our full range of regulated and non-regulated Learning Resources

Deliver up-to-date learning content

Tip Number 3) Deliver up-to-date learning content

If educational material provided by a college, independent training provider or local authority does not reflect the latest research, best practices, and industry standards, students may receive an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of their field.

Not only might this be detrimental to the organisation's reputation, but it will also deter learners seeking a high-quality education.

Regular reviews and updates to course content and curriculum ensure that the education provided uses up-to-date terminology and most importantly, meets current standards including the Ofsted inspection framework.

Providing up-to-date learning resources encourages a culture of lifelong learning.

This is critical for those who work in fields such as Childcare and Health and Social Care, as they are expected to fulfil a set amount of CPD hours, stay updated on industry practice and are more likely to continue learning throughout their careers, ensuring that their skills remain relevant over time.

How can you ensure learning resources are always up to date?

As educators, we must deliver learning content that moves with the times and reflects the very latest advancements within the sector.

However, in practice, ensuring your provision is always utilising the very latest learning content can be resource-heavy, costly to implement and time-consuming, particularly for organisations that still rely on paper-based learning models.

Organisations that utilise hybrid or online learning models will be at a significant advantage when it comes to keeping their resources up to date, given that updates can typically be implemented remotely with speed and at minimal cost.

If you haven’t already, consider a paper-free delivery method.

How The Skills Network can help FE providers maintain current learning content

Conventional paper-based learning resources are to be considered educationally unsound in 2024.

Not only are they an inferior learning method for SEN learners, but they are also prone to becoming out of date very quickly, leading to sub-optimal Ofsted performance ratings and poor learner outcomes.

Make online learning the real page turner

That is why here at The Skills Network, we proudly deliver a predominantly online learning delivery model, with paper resources available upon special request via a dedicated account manager.

Our partners can rest easy knowing that all curriculum updates (big or small) are loaded onto our partner's cloud-based EQUAL learning platform - seamlessly and at no cost.

Enquire about EQUAL

This blog has explored 3 top tips for maximising AEB spend and ultimately, boosting learner intake.

FE organisations must be prepared to offer flexible online learning, expand their funded online course portfolio and ensure course content is up to speed with the latest developments. Without these crucial 3 commitments, FE organisations will fall victim to the creeping decline in adult learning engagement figures.

With the expert guidance of The Skills Network, our partners can make AEB drawdown work hard, ensure an outstanding learning experience and ultimately future-proof their delivery for years to come.