Despite the evidence which points to the fact that adults who endeavour to continue learning after the completion of their compulsory education go on to enjoy healthier lives and are more productive, the number of mature students returning to education continue dropping. These numbers have dropped by more than half since 2011.
The main reason cited for this is the confusion around access to funding, albeit there are many other factors at play. In a concerted effort with the Newcastle College uniformed public services department, we further explore the types of funding available:
Changes in government funding
The UK coalition government’s decision to cut grants while increasing tuition fees three-fold has discouraged many would-be applicants from getting into higher education.
Because of the targeting of school leavers by many UK universities to try and bump up the number of applications and to spread information about the reduced impact of fees, younger students are more informed and are more willing to take on student debt. On the other hand the adults are less likely to commit to such a financial obligation.
Access to funding
Different forms of funding are available to adult learners, such as adult learner loans as well as free or partially funded learning courses. In spite of this however, there’s still some confusion over eligibility, which makes for another deterrent for mature students.
Changes in the Adult Education Budget (AEB)
A one-year trial funding for the 2018/2019 period is available for individuals who earn less than £15, 736.50 annual gross salary. The funding is granted on a first-come, first-served basis and you can check for full eligibility requirements at the local college you wish to apply to.
Professional and Career Development Loans
25th January 2019 is the final date for the acceptance of applications into the scheme, which offers a low-interest bank loan of up to £10,000. This will help cover costs of courses and training which will come to the aid of your career. Eligibility details are available here.
19+ Discretionary Learners Fund
The costs which the fund covers vary by course and college and it really just depends on your individual circumstances. More info here.
Advanced Learner Loan
Eligible learners who are 19 years and older, studying towards their Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 qualification at an approved college or training provider in England can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan or an Advanced Learner Loan Bursary. More info available here.
For specific courses, grants or bursaries are available and it all just depends on which course of study you’re planning to complete. These range from training to be a teacher, a nurse, a social worker or in fact to work in certain trades. Courses such as drama and dance also have some bursaries and grants available.
One of the obstacles contributing to the struggle which parents who want to return to education have is that of the costs associated with childcare. In this case there is a childcare grant for those who want to get into full time higher education, this in addition to the childcare support available as part of the 19+ Discretionary Learner Support Fund.