14 Oct 2013
Autumn 2014 seem a long way off? Not if you’re thinking of studying at university next year. Universities have been welcoming prospective students to open days since early summer but if you’re only just getting around to the idea of studying for a degree there’s still lots of time to see what’s on offer. And don’t forget some universities start courses at different times of the year so you may not have to wait until next September.
But please don’t think all students are 18 or 19 years old when they start their degree. One in every three students is over the age of 21 when they start at university for the first time –and thousands of students begin degree courses when they are in their thirties and forties. So if you want a change of career, did not have the chance to study for a degree when you were younger, are passionate about studying for a subject in which you are interested or realise that there would be more job opportunities if you were better qualified, there will be a course for you.
Worried about studying full-time? Many universities offer part-time courses and the chance to study on-line. Got family commitments and know that it would be very difficult to study away from home? In fact each year, many students live at home and manage family and other commitments. No-one says it’s easy but each year thousands of people graduate having combined study, work and family.
So what about the money? All first-time students are entitled to a fee loan (repayable over 30 years with any outstanding loans written-off at the end of the term) as well as maintenance loans and grants if they are studying full-time. Maintenance grants and loans are subject to household income but these loans are also repayable over 30 years. Part-time students are also entitled to fee loans. Universities may also be able to help in other ways – and they are a mine of information about fees, maintenance loans and grants.
So what are the benefits of studying for a degree? Almost too many to mention but here’s a starter for ten: you’re likely to have expanded your horizons, ideas, knowledge, skills and qualifications. You will meet academic experts, join on-line communities, study on flagship campuses and mix with students from countries across the world. You may also have the opportunity to study overseas yourself. You will have the chance to study career-focused courses with many offering experience of working with employers on real-life problems or placements – and after all that, you are likely to be more employable both when you have completed your course and during the rest of your life.
What’s not to like?