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What is a Lifelong Learning Network?

A Lifelong Learning Network (LLN) is a group of institutions, including Higher Education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs), that come together across a city, area or region to offer new progression opportunities for vocational learners.

How were Lifelong Learning Networks created?

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the DfES developed a Joint Progression Strategy to advance vocational and workplace progression into and through Higher Education.
As part of this, HEFCE, already working in partnership on the Aim Higher initiative, collaborated with national, regional and local partners to form Lifelong Learning Networks.

What does a Lifelong Learning Network aim to do?

Each Lifelong Learning Network aims to:

  • Combine the strengths of a number of Further Education colleges and Higher Education institutions, including at least one research-intensive institution;
  • Consult with the local Learning and Skills Council, Regional Skills Partnerships, appropriate Sector Skills Councils and other key stakeholders;
  • Provide appropriate information, advice, guidance and support for learners on vocational pathways;
  • Ensure that learners have access to a range of progression opportunities so they can move between different kinds of vocational and academic programmes as their interests, needs and abilities develop;
  • Bring greater clarity, coherence and certainty to progression opportunities;
  • Develop progression agreements and ensure that they operate effectively across the network;
  • Develop the curriculum as appropriate to facilitate progression;
  • Value vocational learning outcomes and provide opportunities for vocational learners to build on earlier learning and re-engage with learning throughout their lifetime;
  • Make Higher Education available to vocational learners across a lifetime of work and study.

Are all Lifelong Learning Networks the same?

Not every network is the same or developing at the same speed, with each employing different and innovative approaches to developing and supporting progression for vocational learners.
In some areas, Lifelong Learning Networks are building on existing arrangements and relationships, while in others new possibilities are being explored.

How are Lifelong Learning Networks funded?

Lifelong Learning Networks are supported by HEFCE with resources to cover start-up costs. On-going, recurrent funding is drawn from a range of sources.
Higher Education providers can also be awarded additional student numbers from HEFCE, to accommodate increased demand arising from the take-up of progression opportunities.