Birkbeck encourages trade union members to explore higher education

Thanks to the historic partnership with unionlearn, Birkbeck, University of London offers a 10% discount for trade union members.

Birkbeck, University of London
Photo credit - Birkbeck, University of London

Thanks to the historic partnership with unionlearn, Birkbeck, University of London offers a 10% discount for trade union members. Over 700 members have taken advantage of this opportunity in the current academic year, studying courses in subjects from Law to Counselling to Business and Accounting, with plenty in between.

Every evening during term time, Birkbeck becomes a hive of activity, with people arriving from all over London and beyond to attend their lectures, many coming straight from work. Birkbeck’s unique evening classes mean that it’s possible to attend your lectures and seminars and gain a University of London degree whilst still holding down a day job. Courses are available on a full time and part time basis at both undergraduate and postgraduate level; the commitment varies from one or two evenings per week, up to 3 to 4 evenings, depending on the subject and the intensity of study.

Birkbeck was established in 1823, to bring education to working Londoners. It remains true to that mission today, and is especially committed to providing access to university for students who are under-represented in higher education. With a range of entry routes, Birkbeck’s courses offer learners the chance to do a degree whatever their previous experience of education and many take advantage of the Foundation Year or Certificate in Higher Education options that Birkbeck offers, to ease themselves back into education slowly, and develop the skills and approaches needed to succeed at university.

The student body at Birkbeck comprises of a high proportion of students aged 25 and upwards, including those who may have experienced difficulties in their earlier education, as well as those who did not have the opportunity or desire to study at university earlier in life but who now wish to combine a university degree with employment and/or other commitments. Many students decide to enrol at Birkbeck following retirement or redundancy, taking advantage of the opportunities for lifelong learning and a personal challenge which a degree offers. For others, a degree is a chance to change career or build a future-proof skillset to meet the demands of the changing workforce. Careers support is on hand from Birkbeck Futures, to help these students maximise their employability.

At Birkbeck we’re used to working with students from different backgrounds and walks of life so there’s lots of help and support available at Birkbeck. Birkbeck’s 10% discount for trade union members reflects the importance of the movement in providing opportunities for workers from all sectors to advance personally and professionally. Birkbeck recognises the impressive skillset developed through involvement with trade unionism and we are proud to equip activists with the learning and critical thinking skills to take that even further.

It can be difficult to know where to start when taking the first steps on the journey to university, so ULRs and reps can request free workshops and learning activities for their workplace or branch to help members without a first degree to apply to and succeed at university. This could be a session outlining the practicalities of preparing for university, information on student finance or help with writing a personal statement.

To find out more, visit Birkbeck’s stand at the unionlearn conference on 11th July or email [email protected]

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Sophie Swain

Sophie Swain is the Outreach and Access Officer at Birkbeck responsible for trade union members, and a former student of Birkbeck. Sophie is the first port of call for unions and members interested in finding out more about studying at university.