OpenLearn with your union

Find out how unions can help support your study

To raise the skills of the workforce with a focus on increasing essential and digital skills and employability skills of the Welsh workforce.

Funding your learning through WULF

TThe Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) is provided by Welsh Government to help support union led adult learning in the workplace. WULF is an opportunity for you to learn through your union, courses can take place online from home or at work. You can even aim to study with The Open University. All Welsh workers have the opportunity to access the fund, although WULF cannot fund fully University degree courses, learning such as Open University undergraduate Microcredentials and Open Access courses (foundation) can be supported.

Does your workplace have a union(s)? Find out which union(s) work in your sector by using the union finder tool.  Register your interest. If you‘re not a member of a union, don’t worry, you can still access support. Alternatively find out about online learning that is available and for free to everyone on OpenLearn with your union.

Three steps to getting funding


Get in touch and register
your interest


Choose a course


One of the team will
be in touch

If you choose

  • If you choose to start with an OpenLearn course, set up an account on Open Learn with your Union and off you go, these courses are free to everyone
  • If you choose a Microcredential or Open Access Course, the WULF team will need to support you with your application, register your interest and we will be in touch
  • If you choose an Open University module, certificate, diploma, degree or port graduate degree register your interest and one of the student support team will be in touch.

Craig’s story

Craig Kinsey is a Communications Workers Union (CWU) Union Learning Rep and learner, in this short video Craig talks about his Open Access course with The Open University in Wales that was fully funded through WULF.

He talks about the benefits of WULF, and his experience on his Arts and Language Fast Track online Open Access course. Craig left school with 4 GCSEs, and tells us how this course improved his writing, punctuation, grammar, and how he learnt to reference others work and write critically. In his role as a Union Learning Rep he encourages other members to learn, in doing this course gave his members confidence in him when he is encouraging them to take up learning. He enjoyed learning at his own pace and fitting it around life and work. He was also allocated a one on one tutor that he could ring, email or text.

‘She was brilliant, that support is not something you get on any other course I’ve been on. I would say The Open University is probably the best experience I’ve had learning online or learning at home because there is so much support there’ – Craig Kinsey


The overarching aims of WULF are to:

To raise the skills of the workforce with a focus on increasing essential and digital skills and employability skills of the Welsh workforce, supporting workers to progress onto further learning and gain relevant qualifications.

To support Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) in raising demand for learning from non-traditional learners, workers with low skills levels and disadvantages groups in the workplace helping them over come barriers to learning.

Help and support can be tailored to your individual needs, WULF is designed to remove barriers to learning and can deliver flexible options to suit you in the following areas: health and wellbeing, essential and digital skills, vocational skills, Welsh, employability and career change, redundancy and workplace change, young workers and older workers, progression pathways, funding, negotiation and bespoke training packages.

Progression Pathways 

“What are qualification levels, where do I start?”

WULF can help you review, assess and plan your learning journey. Progress, and achievements don’t happen overnight. WULF will support you step by step.

Understanding levels, credits and qualifications can sometimes be confusing and a little daunting so let the experts help. At the Open University we keep it simple, level 1, 2 and 3, each module is worth a number of credits, you need 360 credits to graduate with a degree.


Progression and development

The Open University (OU) can map your current skills and previous learning to help you achieve a qualification or credit.

You may want to start with free informal learning with OpenLearn with your Union, this can be a fantastic first step, you can easily progress onto an Access course and beyond to a full degree programme. We also have a dedicated module called Making Your Learning Count, which is designed to include your informal learning to help you achieve your first formal OU module qualification (30 L1 credits).

You may already have a degree or want to upskill with an Open University Microcrediental, a professional development short course. The undergraduate courses can also be funded through WULF.

Browse Learning areas

Learning for life

Improve access, opportunity, confidence, skill and qualification levels, mobility of people in work and support transitions into new or better work.

Fair work for all 

Work in partnership to improve access, equal opportunities, pay, a just transition and quality of work / employment in Wales.

Economic inequality

Create opportunities and support adults struggling to find or keep secure work and to help them progress in work / employment.

Union staff continued professional development

A selection of continued professional development courses for Union staff, Union Learning Reps etc.

Become an Open University in Wales Champion

The Open University in Wales Champion programme aims to break down barriers to informal and formal learning and promotes progression pathways for learners into higher education and higher-level skills.

As one of our Champions you are a passionate advocate for lifelong learning and you are able to signpost your members to any of Open University study options across a range of courses from: free informal learning on OpenLearn with your Union, Microcredentials, OpenAccess, Higher National Certificates, Diplomas, Open Degree, undergraduate/postgraduate modules/course, and Degree Apprenticeships.

Please email us at to register your interest in ‘The Open University in Wales Champion free training’. We’ll send you joining instructions after you’ve registered.

Your questions answered

How much can WULF fund?

We’d suggest that an average total of around £200 per person, per year is normal for a lot of projects. Contact your union’s WULF team to find out more. Some unions can contribute and cover the full cost of a course, some unions organise courses at subsidised rates and ask for learner or employer contributions.

How does WULF work?

Trades unions bid for funding for up to three years in order to organise and or pay for learning opportunities for union members and their non-member colleagues.  The delivery of union led learning initiatives helps everyone up-skill and progress in their working and personal lives.

What is WULF and how can it help me?

Watch this YouTube video for guide to help you understand what WULF is. WULF is a really unique fund and one of the only schemes in Wales open to all working adult learners, you don’t have to be a union member, it has very few eligibility criteria and is designed to help workers in all sorts of industry and sectors, with a large range of needs.   WULF is delivered by friendly experts that arrange quality opportunities.

WULF is unable to fund: Higher Education (HE) Degree courses; or training that an employer has a sole responsibility to deliver.

Why learn via a union?

Learning with the support of a union offers a unique opportunity for additional support.  You are more likely to receive quality bespoke advice and guidance and be successful in receiving funding towards the cost of a course whilst in work.

Flexible support can be adapted and designed around your needs and responsibilities.

Fully trained Union Learning Reps can guide and support you at every step of your learning journey.

Expert WULF teams can negotiate with employers on your behalf, release funds for your chosen course, pay the provider directly, deliver courses at a time to suit, and develop new bespoke courses.

If I am not eligible for funding, what payment options are available?

Financial support is available for eligible part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in Wales, through Student Finance Wales. You or your employer can also pay using a combination of the following:


Who do I need to speak to?

The WULF team and union reps can do all the talking for you!  Take the first step and contact a WULF lead or contact the Open Univesity in Wales for help