Regardless of the evidence which is clearly pointing to the fact that adults who continue learning following the completion of their compulsory education go on to be more productive and live healthier lives, the numbers surrounding mature students who return to education continue to drop. The numbers have more than halved since 2011.

The main reason for this is the confusion surrounding access to funding, even though there are many other contributing factors at play. In an effort together with the Newcastle College uniformed public services department, we further explore the types of funding available:

Changes in government funding

The UK’s coalition government took a decision to decrease grants while tripling fees, a move which has since discouraged many people from applying to get into higher education.

As a result of the targeting of school leavers by many UK universities to try and increase the number of applications and to spread awareness about the reduced impact of fees, the younger students are more informed, making them 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 on offer for adult learners, like adult learner loans and free or partially-funded learning courses. Despite this however, there’s still some confusion over eligibility, which makes for another deterring factor for mature students.

Changes in the Adult Education Budget (AEB)

For the receiving of full funding for the one-year trial over the 2018/19 funding year, you would be required to be earning less than £15, 736.50 annually (gross salary). Full eligibility requirements can be found at the local college you’re applying to get into, otherwise funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Professional and Career Development Loans

Final applications for this scheme will be accepted up until 25 January 2019. A low-interest loan going up to £10,000 is available, issued by the bank to help you cover the costs of those courses and training which will help you in your career. Find out your eligibility here.

19+ Discretionary Learners Fund

The costs covered by the fund vary by the college and the course, so it just depends on your individual circumstances. Find out more here.

Advanced Learner Loan

Eligible learners who are 19 and above, studying for their Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 qualification at an approved college or training provider in England can either apply for an Advanced Learner Loan or an Advanced Learner Loan Bursary. More info is available here.

Course-specific grants

Grants for specific courses or bursaries are available and it all just depends on which course of study you’re planning to enrol into, ranging from training to be a teacher, a nurse, a social worker to working in certain trades. Courses such as drama and dance also have some bursaries and grants on offer.

Childcare Funding

One of the obstacles which contribute to the struggle facing parents who want to get back into education is that of the costs of childcare. For this there’s a childcare grant aimed at those who want to get into full time higher education, this complementary to the childcare support available as part of the 19+ Discretionary Learner Support Fund.

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