Learning with your union

Find out how unions can help support your study

Find out more about how the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) can remove barriers to learning and help you reach your goals.

Funding your learning through WULF

The Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) is provided by the 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 workers in Wales have the opportunity to access the fund, although WULF cannot fund fully University degree courses, but learning such as Open University undergraduate microcredentials and Open Access courses (foundation) can be supported.

Three steps to getting funding for your study


Get in touch and register
your interest


Choose a course


One of the team will
be in touch

If you choose:

  • To start with an OpenLearn course, you do not need to apply for funding, as OpenLearn courses are free for everyone. Visit OpenLearn.com to get started. You can also create a free OpenLearn account which will allow you to access more features, track your progress on courses and receive completion certificates.
  • A microcredential or Access course, your union’s WULF team will need to support you with your application. Register your interest and we will be in touch.  Find out which union(s) works in your sector by using the TUC union finder tool.
  • Another type of Open University course or qualification, contact us and a member of the team will be in touch to discuss your funding options.

Craig’s OpenAccess 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.

In the video, Craig 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, and grammar, and how he learnt to reference others work and write critically.

In his role as a Union Learning Rep, Craig encourages other members to learn, and how by doing this course it 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.

“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:

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

Support Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) in raising demand for learning from non-traditional or hard-to-reach learners by assisting vulnerable workers with low skills levels or from disadvantaged groups and helping them overcome 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 and development

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, and you need 360 credits to graduate with a degree.

The Open University 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, this can be a fantastic first step, and you can easily progress onto an Access course and beyond to a full degree programme. There is also 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 microcredential or another type of professional development short course.

Browse courses by learning theme

WULF is designed to fund learning under several learning themes, based on the Welsh Government’s areas of action for a Stronger, Fairer, Greener Wales. You can browse examples below of employability and skills courses available under each area of learning.

Learning for life

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

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 workers and activists, Union Learning Reps, etc.

Degree apprenticeships from The Open University in Wales

Applied Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship

The apprenticeship is suitable for new and existing employees who work in digital and technology roles and who spend the majority of their working hours in Wales.

The apprenticeship is fully funded by the Welsh Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

Become an OpenLearn Champion

OpenLearn Champions is an advocacy programme from The Open University in Wales that can help break down barriers to learning by helping people get to grips with OpenLearn, The OU’s free online learning website.

OpenLearn Champions are trained to help spread the word about free learning opportunities in their workplaces and communities. The idea is to inspire a love of learning and support adults across Wales to develop skills, raise their confidence and explore what OpenLearn has to offer.

If you’re passionate about lifelong learning, becoming an OpenLearn Champion can be a great way to help people develop skills, improve their confidence and discover new things.

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?

The Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) is 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 little eligibility criteria and is designed to help workers in a variety of industries and sectors with a large range of needs. WULF is delivered by friendly experts who can arrange tailored access to funding and new opportunities.

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

You may find this video useful to help you understand what WULF is.

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 register your interest and a member of the WULF team or The Open University in Wales can advise you with your next steps.