Nearly 100 universities and colleges will receive Pounds 60 million in the next four years to develop vocational education and training.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is allocating Pounds 15 million a year to cover the costs of developing new and innovative courses. The scheme expands the ideas behind Pickup, an old Department for Education programme for short courses.
A spokesperson for the funding council said: "We are investing in the business plans of institutions so that they can link in with the world of work. The idea is to meet the needs of employers, those in work and those seeking to update their skills."
Sue Cox, director of the Centre for Hazard and Risk Management at Loughborough University, a recipient, said: "We have long been a centre for excellence for a number of vocational courses. This money enables us to pump-prime initiatives in new areas."
Loughborough will this year receive Pounds 211,667 towards courses in waste and environmental management, health and safety, security and risk management in partnership with insurance and water companies, chartered engineers, and hospitals.
The funding council has encouraged universities to collaborate with local businesses, Training and Enterprise Councils and Chambers of Commerce. In all just 21 institutions will receive Pounds 300,000 each this year.