Exploring Your ELC Options
Whether you’ve already got a new career in your sights or you’re still exploring your options, making the most of the MOD’s Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme could give your CV a boost.
Open to both Serving personnel and Service-leavers, the MOD’s Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELC) aims to promote lifelong learning by providing funding towards educational courses and training. Whether you’re planning your exit from the Forces or are still within your resettlement period now’s a great time to put outstanding credits to use.
Providing you meet the eligibility criteria, you can claim assistance with higher level learning at GCSE, A-level and above in up to three separate financial years. This is equivalent to level three on the National Qualifications Framework or level six in Scotland. To qualify, your training must result in a nationally recognised qualification or international equivalent and be completed through an approved learning provider.
Help is available for Service-leavers for at least five years after they’ve left the Armed Forces, and in some cases up to 10 years after departure. So you could select a course that’s likely to help you into immediate employment then move on to complete training with an eye on promotion and progression or increasing your earning potential.
Entitlement for Service-leavers
If you’re still Serving, your first port of call for finding out about your ELC entitlement is to speak with the Education Officer on your unit or base. For those already back on civvy street, you can contact your Single Service Representative for the scheme (contact details below) or enquire through the dedicated website: www.enhancedlearningcredits.com
The time you have Served and whether you’ve completed any Enhanced Learning Credits during Service both have a part to play in deciding your entitlement. It’s also worth noting that prior to 1 April 2016, Serving personal were required to register for the ELC scheme in order to receive support. However, those entering or still Serving after this date should now be automatically enrolled.
You must have accrued at least four years of Service in order to qualify for the scheme. Those with longer Service are able to unlock additional financial support. Whilst you will be expected to pay for at least 20% of course fees, using your own funds, the remaining 80% is met through the scheme. All training must be started before the end of your eligibility period.
• Those with four or more years of Service under their belts before 1 April 2017 or six or more completed after this date can claim a maximum of three awards of £1,000 in separate financial years. These years don’t need to be consecutive.
• If you’ve Served six years or more and haven’t yet made any ELC claims, you could choose to roll your financial support into a single award of up to £3,000.
• For Service-leavers with eight or more years of qualifying Service, there are a maximum of three awards of £2,000 per financial year available.
The Further and Higher Education Scheme
If you want to go to university and study towards your first degree but don’t fancy the £9,000 per year price tag, you may also be able to use ELCs. Under the Joint Funding Initiative, if you have enough credits available and select an approved foundation or undergraduate degree, you could study without paying tuition fees.
Instead, your fees are covered by a combination of ELC and public funding. This is commonly referred to as the ‘free degree scheme’. But before you commit to using all of your ELCs, it’s worth noting that you may be able to claim financial support for a university degree elsewhere. With this in mind, it’s worth exploring all of the help available to you before you apply.
Boost your prospects and make connections
If you already have a new career path in mind, you can use your ELCs to work towards qualifications you know are required and start planning practical steps towards your career goals. Through the ELC scheme, you can build on skills and experiences you’ve developed in the Forces and gain nationally recognised qualifications that are familiar to potential employers. If you’re unsure what you want to do or what sector you’d like to operate in, you could opt to undertake a course with broad employability to help open up options in a variety of sectors.
Remember, all training courses must be from an ELC approved provider. To investigate possible course choices based on subject, geographic location or to explore your distance learning options, visit: www.enhancedlearningcredits.com and use the learning provider search function.
Information about the ELC Scheme is contained in the Joint Service Publication JSP 822, which is available to download from the Enhanced Learning Credit Administration Service website.
0845 3005179 (UK)
0044 191 442 8196 (Overseas)
Single Service Representatives
Navy ELC Manager
Tel: 02392 625954
The Army’s ELC helpline is currently closed. Army-leavers should enquire through the ELCAS website or email:
RAF Learning Credits Administrator
Tel: 01400 268 183
Former Navy Lieutenant, Mike Huggins, 35, left the Forces in 2015 after seven years of Service. Before his departure, he began to plan for his future using ELCs. He had a few ideas about avenues he wanted to pursue and after speaking with his Education Officer he opted to take a project management course on-site at RAF Wyton. He paid 20% of the course fees towards the Association for Project Management (APM) course; the remaining 80% was paid using ELC funding. He recalls the process as being simple and hassle free.
Along with gaining a recognised qualification, the course also proved useful from a networking point of view. “The course was great and I met other Service-leavers on it,” he said. “I heard about their plans for the future and where they might go next. One of them mentioned an open day with the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock. I went along, which helped me to go on and get a job there. Later, I secured a position with the European Central Bank using my project management training.” Now three years into his resettlement period, Mike is looking at using another batch of credits and would strongly recommend the scheme to other Service-leavers.