Why Higher Education?
Benefits of Higher Education
Planning to study at higher education is a major life commitment and well worth putting some quality time into making the right decision. If well researched, a degree or higher education qualification could greatly improve job opportunities, lead to higher earnings and open doors to more interesting jobs.
However, a higher education qualification will not guarantee the above. It is therefore important to research your course thoroughly.
There are 2 key factors that you need to weigh up:
- What do you hope to gain from higher education?
- How much is it going to cost you and what help is available?
Gaining Entry to University
If you are an adult seeking a second chance in education it may not be necessary to spend 2 years gaining A levels to meet entry requirements. Access programmes are specially designed to prepare mature students for entry into HE and provide the underpinning knowledge and skills needed to progress to a degree or diploma course at a university or college.
Access to HE courses are invaluable as both a recognised qualification for applicants without standard entrance qualifications and to update or acquire relevant study skills and knowledge in a well supported environment.
Undertaking an Access course is going to add an extra year to your budget planning. Find out how much the fees are for this course, what financial support is available and how many hours per week you can expect to be in the classroom.
What next after the Access course? Where does this lead to? What are you aiming for – personal achievement, a higher level of academic qualification, training, better career prospects?
It would be wrong to think that a degree qualification automatically improves job opportunities. There are other factors to take into account: like experience; competition for jobs; age; mobility; maybe further specialised training. Will you need to study a very specific degree course to attain the right knowledge and skills? You do not want to waste your time and resources.
To find out more go to http://www.connexions-direct.com/jobs4u/for the A-Z of Occupations on-line and to www.prospects.ac.uk the careers website for universities in the UK.
Choosing Your Course and University
Around 20% of students drop out of higher education each year because they did not think through their choice of subject or university. Find out about degree courses now! How far will you have to travel for the right degree course? Can you consider moving to study? Have you got enough free time for studying at this level and to cover all the course requirements, such as projects, assignments and revision for exams? What about juggling other commitments, such as home and family? Are you considering part-time and distance learning options, as an alternative to full-time study?
Go to the college HE Unit Website for information on local Foundation degree courses and careers information. Go to www.ucas.ac.uk for a comprehensive and up-to-date listing of degree courses, with links to university/college Websites.
What Will it Cost?
How long do you plan to study? The Access to HE course is one year full time, made up of approximately 16 hours per week of classroom and guided study. A further 10-15 hours private study time per week is also required.
Full-time Foundation degrees are 2 years, Honours degrees total a minimum of 3 years and longer for part-time and distance learning. Full-time courses may be between 12-16 hrs per week in a classroom.
Course fees for full-time Higher Education courses, accredited by Bournemouth University and delivered at The Bournemouth & Poole College are £6,000 for 2013-2014. Fees for 2014-2015 are to be confirmed.
Go to www.aimhigher.ac.uk and www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport for information on financial support.
Depending on the level of your household income, it is possible to get full (or partial) grants to cover your fees and basic maintenance (living) costs in term-time. It is expected that half the number of students applying will be eligible for some support
However, you might get nothing and have to self-fund your expenses and consider taking out loans. Grants, bursaries and scholarships do not have to be paid back – loans do.
With some career specific courses such as nursing you would expect to get a bursary and fees paid.
Extra help can come from employers, the university/college Access to Learning Fund and educational charities and trusts. Most universities/colleges provide bursaries and scholarships for some courses. Check out your entitlements. Visit www.uniburse.com to compare bursaries offered by universities.
Student Loans (government supported) are available for fees and maintenance.
Repaying What You Borrow
You pay nothing up front. Repayment starts after you finish your courses and are earning over £15,000 a year (2011-2012). If you stop working, you stop repaying.
International students have to pay the full cost of the course as set by the university/college. Go to www.ukcosa.org.uk for information. EU students will pay fees in the same way as UK/home students. If you have been settled in the UK for over 3 years, you can apply for financial support for maintenance (living costs).
Start by going to www.aimhigher.ac.uk and downloading the booklet ‘Thinking it through – a guide to HE' or alternatively, order a printed copy tel freephone: 0800 587 8500.
Other useful websites
Student Finance Direct (managed by the Student Loans Company in partnership with Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and the Department for Education and Skills) provides help and guidance for students from England and Wales (links for other students) applying for financial support. Use the interactive calculator to work out your entitlements and apply online.
National Union of Students (NUS) website for more information, including estimated expenditure and planning your budget.
Use Funderfinder to identify other sources of financial support.