Wales and Northern Ireland

The funding mechanisms for Wales and Northern Ireland differ to the funding system in England. The Skills Funding Agency and Education Funding Agency have an England-only remit, meaning that funding for qualifications undertaken in Wales and Northern Ireland are distributed directly to providers by Government rather than through a funding agency.


At the heart of the framework is a shift from funding qualifications to funding programmes as the basis for planning and funding post-16 learning. A directory of eligible full-time programmes​ has been created, which provides an outline of each programme. Programmes will only be eligible for funding if they are listed in this directory. The aim is that the framework will:
  • maintain three-year indicative funding allocations to provide stability and aid planning
  • maintain uplift funding for deprivation, sparsity and Welsh-medium provision. This will be a ring-fenced element within the overall grant allocation
  • standardise the approach to planning and funding between LAs and FEIs
  • monitor the outcomes of the learning offer to enable learners to better understand where that learning could take them.​
    Each full-time programme is designed with the same structure in mind, but will have its own specification dependent on type and level of programme. Each programme typically consists of four components, namely: a core, main qualification(s), community learner industry focus (CLIF) and work experience. In most programmes, the main qualification would normally be an approved diploma or extended diploma but there is flexibility to combine up to four smaller qualifications. This does not include any qualifications which are part of the core or the CLIF.

    The Qualifications in Wales database (QiW) is  the main point of reference for all approved qualifications that are eligible for post-16 funding in Wales. Main qualifications within learning programmes must be selected from those listed on the QiW database as eligible for funding and approved for delivery, and must relate to the learning area of the programme. The only exceptions are the various pathways within the Access to HE Diploma which are regulated by QAA.

    The Welsh Government is working towards a skills system with a stronger culture of co-investment between government, employers and individuals across all available funding sources. More information can be found here.​


    Northern Ireland


    Funding for qualifications and/or training in Northern Ireland is distributed by the Department for Education and Learning Northern Ireland (DELNI). DELNI offers various types of funding support for learners, employers and providers, with different eligibility criteria for each.

    The Department allocates funding among the six regional further education colleges annually, who then subcontract to private training providers as and when required. The funding is primarily focused on widening access, increasing participation, addressing skills shortages, and innovation.