The government has announced it is relaxing its funding policy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) students, a move welcomed by the Open University (OU).
From next month, more people will have the opportunity to retrain and gain a Bachelor of Science (BSc) (Hons) Computing and IT degrees with the OU because Whitehall has relaxed the Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) policy.
This move has opened up the availability of tuition fee loans in England, even if people already have a higher education qualification.
Those who already had a degree or equivalent were previously excluded from applying for tuition fee loans but no, those wishing to study computing will have access to loan support regardless of their previous qualification.
The OU believes it is vital to have routes for the existing workforce to upskill and retrain because there is an ‘urgent’ shortage in IT skills and up to 90% of the current workforce will still be working over the next decade.
“We’re just over the half year mark in 2015 and since the beginning of the year we’ve been reminded of the UK IT skills shortage each time there’s been another news story about IT security breaches, or insider threat, not to mention the industry surveys which provide further evidence,” claimed senior lecturer in Computing at the OU Arosha Bandara.
“With this in mind, it is more important now than ever before that the talent needed to fill this gap is sourced from every place possible, and the relaxation of the ELQ policy is a positive step in achieving this, by tapping into a group of people who previously would not have been able to undertake an additional degree course due to financial or time constraints.
“As IT also becomes embedded in more areas of business, the relaxation presents the opportunity for those who are in employment to consider the course as a way to enhance their portfolio of skills and consequently match the needs of the industry,” he added.