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Free Online Courses with the Adult Education Budget (2024)

Details: Written by Kate Hutchinson |

Free Online Courses with the Adult Education Budget (AEB) 2024

E-learning has revolutionised the way individuals and businesses choose to upskill. Here at The Skills Network, we have been delivering free online courses with certificates in the UK since 2009, so we know our stuff! You’ve probably heard us wax lyrical about – ‘FREE online courses’, and so often we get asked how are they free. There must be a catch. They can’t really be free? The list goes on. But don't worry, we're here to explain…

Free courses in England can seem too good to be true but trust us, it’s not!

Who Funds Free Courses in England?

1 pence coin

To put it simply, free online courses in England are funded by the Adult Education Budget or commonly known as AEB Funding!

AEB funding is one of the UK’s best-kept secrets for free online training and we want you to know all about it!

What is the Adult Education Budget and who can access it?

an old fashioned key

AEB is a government-funded programme that can be accessed by individuals looking to kickstart their careers or employers looking to upskill their workforce.

We support individuals and businesses by utilising Government funding like the Adult Education Budget (AEB), a fund that’s been set up to help support the delivery of education and training courses for adults aged 19 and over.

This is the funding scheme behind our free courses in England, and it’s the reason you can learn with us at no cost!

AEB funding is available through local authorities, colleges and independent training providers and gives you access to up to four courses each academic year.

Here at The Skills Network, we work with over 500 partners across the country and help them to use their AEB funding by providing them with our expertly developed distance learning resources.

Read more about AEB and funding streams

I’m an Individual, how do I access AEB funding?

a young male in chef apron

We have over 45 funded courses available for individuals looking to upskill in England. So far, we have helped over 35,000 learners get a nationally recognised qualification.

Accessing AEB funding as an individual couldn't be simpler -

  1. Apply for your AEB-funded course via our main website
  • You will complete a short initial assessment.
  • A brief phone call to discuss your intentions for enrolling on the course.
  • You should receive an email from your allocated funding partner asking you to accept funding and their terms and conditions.
  1. Funding Compliance Checks
  • Sometimes, we will need additional evidence from you before your funding can be confirmed. E.g. Residency, ID, salary, or benefit evidence.
  • Our Compliance Team will reach out to you to obtain this additional evidence if required, you’ll need to provide this as soon as you can to avoid any delays.
  1. Onboarding Process and Diagnostic Assessment
  • You will receive your welcome email and all supporting resources such as EQUAL login access and the learner handbook.
  • Any additional support that you may need will be arranged at this stage.
  • You’ll complete a diagnostic assessment that will help you and your assessor identify what you know already and give you a focus for your studies.
  • The diagnostic questions link in with the assessment questions so you’ve got an idea of what you’ll be learning in your course.

  • You’re all set to start your course!

    We have proudly supported over 1.6 million learners over the past decade and we help you develop life-long skills to progress in your career.

    But don’t just take our word for it!

    Start your funded learning journey today

    Check out some learner success stories below:

    Free Level 2 online course in Understanding Autism

    Free Level 2 online course in Nutrition and Health

    Free Level 2 online course in End of Life Care

    I’m from a business, how do I access AEB funding?

    a group of employee learners

    The Skills Network can offer your business access to funded training for multiple cohorts of learners. We are confident that we can assist your business with any skills gaps or training needs.

    We offer a range of accredited courses that can enhance a range of organisations across multiple sectors and can support staff with their professional development.

    AEB-funded courses that could enhance your business include:

    Accessing AEB funding as a business is just 3 simple steps:

    1. All staff to apply for an AEB-funded course via a bespoke website address
    1. Compliance Checks
    1. Onboarding Process and Diagnostic Assessment

    Submit an enquiry form and speak to one of our advisors today

    Alternatively, give us a call at 01757600707 or email

    Take a look at some businesses we have helped to upskill…..

    Free staff training- Yorkshire Cricket Foundation

    free staff training- Landmark London

    Fully Funded Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

    We get a lot of questions about our funded courses, so we’ve put together a list of the ones we get asked most often.

    1. What are the AEB funding eligibility criteria?

      To be eligible for AEB funding you…

      • Must currently live in England
      • Must be aged 19 or over by August 31st 2023. (There are no maximum age limits)
      • Must have been living in the UK or EU/EEA for the last 3 years
      • Must not have previously studied the course you are applying for or another course where the content is similar
      • Must not currently be enrolled on another government funded education programme, either with The Skills Network or any other provider
      • If you are aged between 19 and 23 - you must hold a full level 2 qualification (e.g. 5 or more GCSE/O Levels at grades A* - C / 4 - 9, 1 A Level, 2/3 AS Levels, 5 or more CSE grade 1’s, GNVQ Intermediate, QCF Diploma Level 2).

    2. Which courses are available via the Adult Education Budget?

      We currently offer 45+ funded courses in a range of topics including Social Care, Health and Fitness, and Business.

      Take a look at our full course selection

    3. What types of ID do you accept when enrolling on a course?

      You will need an in-date form of identification and your National Insurance Number.

      Any of the ID documents listed below are acceptable:

      • Driving Licence
      • Passport
      • Birth Certificate

      If the name on your ID is different from the name and/or surname on the one in your application, we will need further evidence to support this.

      For example, a copy of your marriage certificate or deed poll.

    4. Am I guaranteed funding if I apply?

      We will always try our best to find funding for every learner who applies but there may be times when we do not have funding available in your area. On these occasions, we will keep you updated whilst we look for suitable funding from other partners.

    5. I’ve applied, why am I waiting for funding?

      If we cannot find funding in your area, or all the current funding has been used, it can take us a little while to secure funding for your course via a different partner. Don’t worry though, we’ll be in touch with an update as soon as we can!

    6. How many courses can you complete for free?

      You can complete up to four Level 2 courses each academic year.

    7. How long do the courses take?

      Our Level 2 qualifications take on average between 8 and 12 weeks to complete, but some learners may complete a course faster, or some may need to request an extension if they need some more time.

    8. How do the course submission dates work?

      All of our courses have submission dates to guide you through your course and help you meet your learning goals. All your course submission dates can be found in your EQUAL account.

      If you need to arrange an extension, this can be arranged by speaking to one of our friendly Learner Support Advisors (LSAs.)

    9. Are the free online courses accredited?

      Yes, our AEB distance learning courses are fully accredited and recognised throughout England. The awarding organisation depends on the course, which can be seen on each course page on our website.

    10. Do I receive a certificate upon completion of my course?

      Yes! Most awarding organisations will send you a digital e-certificate upon successfully passing your course, but in some cases, these certificates are paper-based.

    11. Are these courses only available online?

      Most of our courses are fully online, but for some courses, you can also request paper-based learning resources and then just complete the assessments online.

    12. I’m from a business, can we enrol multiple staff members on an AEB-funded course?

      Yes, absolutely! Simply speak to one of our expert advisors on 01757 606611 or email and they can discuss your unique business training needs.

      Got more questions? Check out our FAQ page or complete our short enquiry form

      We’re always updating our social media platforms and blog with helpful information that answers your questions!

      Make sure to give us a follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and keep an eye on our blog for more useful content coming soon.