Many people decide to return to education later on in life and mature students (over 21 years of age) now make up approximately half of all students in the UK. It is important to remember that age is no barrier and some students at universities have begun their degrees well into retirement age. Consider what type of course will suit you and explore what funding is available. This will be largely dependent on whether you are considering Further or Higher Education.
Further Education refers to colleges who offer a huge range of courses to school leavers and mature students. These include A Levels, Access Courses for people who want to go to university and vocational training courses. Most colleges offer full time, part time and evening courses.
Higher Education refers to universities or colleges that offer courses at undergraduate level or higher. Most universities ask for A Levels or equivalent as an entry requirement. However, if you do not have any qualifications you could think about studying from home with The Open University or take an access course at a college of further education.
Look in your local telephone book for your local college or university and ring to ask for a prospectus. Find out when the next open day is when you can visit the college and get a feel for the place. If there is a college or university welfare officer you could also make an appointment to discuss funding, study skills and special provision such as childcare or disabled access.
For more information on Further and Higher Education in the UK click on one of the following links:
Department for Education and Skills
Government Department Website with information covering all aspects of education and learning in the UK
Department for Education & Learning Northern Ireland
Information on learning opportunities in Northern Ireland
Higher Education and Research Opportunities
Search for a local college or university and course information
Life Long Learning
Government Agency promoting life long learning
Mature Students Union
Information on mature student conferences, find out which colleges and universities are affiliated
National Union of Students contains lots of useful information on funding and other issues for students
SKILL (for students with disabilities)
Promoting opportunities for students with any kind of disability in the UK
Student Awards Agency for Scotland
Financial support information for students in Scotland
Student Loans Company
Information on funding for undergraduate programmes of study in the UK
Everything you need to know about funding in higher education
The Open University
Offers home study programmes and funding assistance for low income students, no entry requirements for undergraduate students
Teacher Training Agency
Website for anyone considering teaching as a career
University and Colleges Admissions Service
Deals with applications for admission to undergraduate programmes of study and information on entry qualifications
Welsh Assembly Education and Learning
Information on learning opportunities in Wales