Getting started

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Key things to consider when getting started

Read on for the main things you need to consider when getting started.

Money matters:


Of course, one of the key questions adults ask when they are thinking about studying is ‘How much will it cost?’ Look at the Money Matters section to find out more - remember to weigh up not just the costs but also the benefits of higher education level study.

Since September 2012 tuition fees have risen significantly but remember you do not have to pay up front and you only start paying back when you are earning over £21,000.

Also, repayments are manageable e.g. only £7.50 a month if you earn £22,000 or £75 a month if you are earning £31,000. Also, loans are written off after 30 years!

Gaining entry to a course with experience and/or past qualifications:

If you know you want to study at degree level but don't feel quite ready to start straight away there are courses that will prepare you for higher level study. You often do not need qualifications to do these courses but you will need to show you can cope with the expected level of learning.

You can also apply to some higher education level courses – even if you do not have qualifications - using relevant skills and experience to gain entry.  

Find out more at ‘Using your experience’

If you are interested in an Open University Course then for most courses you will not need any previous qualifications.

There are also many courses that will accept a range of Level 3 qualifications, like BTEC National Diplomas, Advanced Apprenticeships, as entry qualifications.

Find out your current level of qualifications

Find out how to use your qualifications

Qualifications from outside the UK

If you have qualifications awarded in another country, you'll need to find out whether they are recognised in the UK. See the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) website for more on comparing overseas qualifications with those gained in the UK.

Finding a course to suit you

Higher education level study builds on from qualifications gained at school, or college, or upon the learning gained through your work or your own experience. There are a broad range of courses offered in local colleges and in universities.

 These include:

  • Professional development courses that your employer might support
  • Foundation Degrees (work-related courses) which are full or part time
  • Short courses on a subject of interest that will help you build up credits towards a full qualification;
  • Part time degree courses at a university or college.
  • Full time degree courses at a university or college;

You can find out more detail about the different types of courses available by clicking here.

There are also programmes to help you prepare for studying at a higher education level.

There are also informal leisure related courses which will help you get back into learning (these courses might not lead to a qualification) and also courses to help you brush up on your skills e.g. IT, English and Maths (these courses do lead to qualifications at Level 1 or 2).

Find out more at ‘What, where and how to study’.

Getting the skills you need for study

If you would like to get an understanding of the type and level of skills needed for higher education level study or would like to start improving your skills, then look in the Lifepilot section 'Improving your skills'.

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