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Lifelong Learning

There is a clear and growing need for new education pathways to support learners’ aspirations at every stage of their lives.  

This workstream explores how we can put in place the right processes and infrastructure to embed a breadth of flexible education pathways that give access to a Manchester education throughout a learner’s lifetime.   

Expanding our capability to deliver courses flexibly, for example through modular, stackable degrees, will enable us to respond to market demand and industry needs in a more agile way, as well as attract new types of students. We will innovate how we deliver courses by coordinating and supporting pilot short courses, as well as developing strategic partnerships, including industry and other education providersWe will explore how we can enable staff to repurpose their existing course content as part of new learning pathways, so they can gain additional value from learning materials created by them.  

This workstream is led by Professor Ang Davies (Healthcare Science Education)​, Academic Lead for Flexible Learning Pathways.  

Key deliverables

  • Delivery of short course pilots:

To ensure lifelong learning is fit-for-purpose, learners and employers need to be front and centre in both the design and delivery aspects of any education or training. We will build on the success of funded pilot programmes such as OfS Short Course Trial Project - Agile Software Engineering, developed at Manchester in collaboration with IBM, Fuzzylabs and the Start-up Factory. We will co-create programmes with strategic business partners, employers in the Greater Manchester region and key stakeholders such as the NHS or the Turing Institute, developing flexible education and training to address current, emerging and future skills shortages.

  • Current pilots:

OfS Short Course Trial Project: Flexible Learning has supported the development of a new short course on Agile Software Engineering, as part of the Office for Students’ HE Short Course Trial. Dr Suzanne M. Embury, Reader in the Department of Computer Science at Manchester University, is the academic lead for the project.

The course draws on four existing undergraduate course units, covering a range of topics in software engineering. It is designed to meet the same learning outcomes, but adapted for flexible delivery, to allow learners to tailor their study to better fit their needs and other commitments.

As well as developing and delivering the course, the team have been gathering data on the process of creating short courses from existing UG course units, with the aim of providing guidance to other academics attempting the same transformation in different areas.

  • Support the delivery of the GM skills agenda:

We will work in partnership with key local employers to understand where the current skills shortages are and how our flexible pathway provision may address these requirements. We will work together with Digital Futures, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and regional businesses to develop pilot programmes together. the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and regional businesses to develop pilot programmes for delivery.

  • Develop and manage strategic partnerships for the delivery of lifelong learning​:

We will build close collaborative partnerships with businesses to develop education and training, through existing strategic links via our business engagement teams, as well as exploring and building new strategic partnerships.

  • Current partnerships:

Partnership with leading online bootcamp provider: The University has partnered with HyperionDev, an online coding bootcamp provider that offers short courses to address national data and coding skills gaps. These are targeted at learners looking to give their careers a boost, explore other career paths or to keep up to date with the latest job market requirements.  

So far, we have recruited 64 learners onto government-funded coding courses.  

University of Melbourne: As part of the University’s partnership with the University of Melbourne and Melbourne School for Professional and Continuing Education and the Flexible Learning Programme, we are developing a portfolio of micro-credentials, designed as short courses for post-professional learners. These can be taken as standalone courses or as stackable units that together could lead to an award of, for instance, a professional certificate.    

The new micro-credentials will build on the already-extensive course content developed for the UG UCIL Trust and Security in a Digital World course and will also be used to underpin some of the core units being developed for a new masters programme. This approach to learning design and development is allowing us to gain additional value from existing content, whilst supporting blended learning delivery for our new courses.  


  • Workstream Lead – Ang Davies
  • Workstream Project Manager – Alex Abel 
  • ExecEd - Jane Cromblehome (Alliance Manchester Business School) 
  • BEKE - Caroline Stanton (Head of SME partnerships) 
  • Business Change Lead – Fran Edwards 
  • Communications lead – Ang Davies (support from Fran Edwards) 
  • EDI lead - Ang Davies (support from Lara Melville) 
  • Academic Leads Representative – Simon Thomson 
  • Secretary – Laura-Raluca Pasca