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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


The University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), Cambridge’s specialist provider of open access life-wide learning, has reported record enrolments to its undergraduate sub-degrees.

The number of adult students seeking to study on ICE’s flexible and affordable part-time undergraduate certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas has increased by 54% year-on-year to 674 students

In a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambridge’s part-time undergraduate award-bearing portfolio has moved to fully remote delivery, meaning the courses are accessible safely from home or at work across the world. An innovative bursary scheme has provided financial support to those adults most affected by the pandemic.

Dr Jim Gazzard, Director of Continuing Education, said: “Since the onset of the pandemic we have set out to ensure that the Institute of Continuing Education provides a Cambridge quality education to any adult seeking to respond to the professional and personal challenges caused by COVID-19. These undergraduate University of Cambridge qualifications are accessible ways to explore new professional fields or take the first steps in higher education.” 

The 674 undergraduate students will join a wide community of learning which also encompasses fully online courses including a virtual winter festival of learning, edX MicroMasters and a new data science boot camp as well as postgraduate Master of Studies and Apprenticeship programmes. Total course enrolments are forecast to exceed 6,000 in the current academic year.

Dr Corinne Boz, Director of the Academic Centres Division added: “It is fantastic to see an increased interest in our courses - our students always comment on the richness of their experience at ICE and the ways in which our diverse community of learners enhances their learning experience. In our remote delivery for this year, we have placed great emphasis on supporting peer learning communities and facilitating social as well as intellectual connections in our long-established virtual learning environment.”

Dr Gazzard concluded by saying: “It is inspiring to see how many adults are searching for flexible ways to learn as they contemplate a post-COVID-19 workplace and wider society. Rather than committing to the time and money needed to study for a degree, we believe that for many mid-life part-time students, undergraduate certificates and diplomas provide opportunities to develop meaningful skills and explore new fields. We anticipate that these types of micro-qualifications will continue to see increasing levels of demand in the future.”

The University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)

ICE’s mission is to support the University of Cambridge’s promise to prioritise and enable learning throughout life and to promote the widest possible access for learners to the University. ICE designs, delivers and curates a portfolio of research-informed, world-leading, short courses and award-bearing undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in a broad range of disciplines. This is achieved by leveraging the expertise held within ICE, the collegiate University and its wider networks. ICE acts as an accessible gateway to the University for learners seeking to engage with higher education for the first time or return after an extended break, delivers cutting-edge work-relevant courses for early- and mid-career professionals and career changers, and provides opportunities to learn throughout life. ICE delivers its mission through affordable course provision, flexible modes of course delivery, inclusive and supportive education and a commitment to peer learning.

Undergraduate sub-degrees at the Institute of Continuing Education

ICE provides a range of over 25 undergraduate sub-degrees in the form of 60-credit Certificates (FHEQ level-4), Diplomas (FHEQ level-5) and Advanced Diplomas (FHEQ level-6).

They enable students an open access route to a Cambridge quality education and, importantly, in many subjects provide progression routes to more advanced levels of study.

ICE sub-degrees are available in the arts including creative writing, natural sciences, social sciences and professional and vocational disciplines.

Class sizes typically range from 15-25 students meaning communities of learning form and students can engage closely with ICE academics and tutors.

With the increasing focus on open access higher education, mid-life up- and re-skilling and value for money, undergraduate sub-degrees are re-emerging as accessible, affordable and effective platforms for life-wide learning for all adults. 

A 60-credit certificate programme at ICE can cost as little as £2,150. On a credit-for-credit basis, compared to an undergraduate degree typically costing £9,250 for 120-credits, sub-degrees can offer a highly cost-effective route to credit accumulation.

Whether taking their first steps in higher education, refreshing skills or accelerating careers through work-relevant learning, sub-degrees from established providers such as the University of Cambridge are relevant to adult learners at all life stages.

ICE sub-degrees are eligible for student loans and students engaging with higher education for the first time may be eligible for a range of generous bursaries.

Find out more about ICE undergraduate qualifications.

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