…to deliver real choice and innovation in a tertiary education system

Independent providers are pioneers in developing more flexible and student-centred approaches to higher education, whether this be intensive two-year degrees, fully stackable modules, or a choice of evening, weekend and block-release classes so that mature students can work while they retrain. 

The funding system has traditionally erected barriers against such flexibility, and between the sector silos of further and higher education. Providers who try to bridge the gaps face a heavy burden of overlapping regulation. 

The Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) offers us the chance to shift this paradigm and create flexible and innovative pathways through an emerging tertiary education system.

The next Government should:

1. Commit to the LLE as the foundation for flexible learning through tertiary education

Today’s economy, driven and disrupted by technology in equal measure, requires more upskilling and retraining than ever before. 

The Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) should give every student the same loan to spend per credit, empowering them to choose the right size, level and intensity of learning, at the right time, from the provider which is right for them.

LLE should launch in 2026 with higher technical modules and short courses driving access to industry-specific learning, adding Bachelor’s degrees and modules in 2027. It should be extended again to Master’s level in 2028. 

To be a truly flexible framework for tertiary education, LLE should explicitly support pathways between apprenticeships and independent learning.

2. Task a Tertiary Education Commission with refocusing regulation on growth and innovation

Underpinning the Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) as the foundation for post-18 learning will demand cooperation, convergence and efficiency from today’s regulators of further and higher education. 

A Tertiary Education Commission should be tasked with minimising inefficiencies and burden from overlapping regulatory processes. This requires a renewed focus on protecting the rights of students, promoting choice via data-rich information, advice and guidance, and facilitating their educational journeys through a tertiary system. 

The limited resources of regulators should be prioritised for core functions like registering new providers, granting awarding powers, supporting effective partnerships, and only setting conditions which are proportionate and come with clear guidance. 

Regulatory sandboxes should be extensively used to promote innovation and student choice.


The National Motorsport Academy offers the world’s first online Motorsport Engineering degrees. Students learn at their own pace, choosing their start date and the way they progress through their course. NMA has a dual offer, with students able to take individual modules as professional technical courses, as well as full Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. This model particularly appeals to those starting out in the industry, who can volunteer or work around their studies.

Students also join Team NMA, the Academy’s own professional race team, as engineers for GT Cup racing weekends. A tutor leads the group as Race Engineer, while students work with the drivers on every step of the process, from setting up the garage and unloading the truck, to the final moments of the race weekend. Students can be based all over the UK, coming together for real-life work experience directly through the Team NMA offer.

The National Motorsport Academy was founded by industry professionals who maintain those links. Their careers support includes job fairs at the Motorsport Industry Association’s events and a partnership with one of the premier race staff recruitment websites. NMA keep their course fees low to be accessible to all students, with current UK fees only £6,900 per year.