Since September 2012, the maximum tuition fee that institutions can charge for a part-time degree course is £6,750-00 per year, and courses may cost less than this. However, if fees are set per year, rather than per module, you need to consider how many years you will need to study to complete the qualification.
Part-time tuition fee loans
Since September 2012, loans have been available to pay the tuition fees for part-time learners who have not already studied at university. Maintenance loans are not available for part-time study.
Loans will only be repaid once you are earning £21,000 per year. If you never earn more than £21,000 per year, you will not have to repay the debt. You don’t start making repayments until 4 years after starting and it is paid back through the income tax system. If you are repaying and you lose your job, repayments stop. The debt is written off after 30 years, and will be wiped and not be passed on to your dependents if you die or become permanently incapacitated. The loan will not affect your credit rating. There is no upper age limit for these loans.
The Independent Taskforce on Student Finance, headed up by Martin Lewis, has produced a range of resources. Including a part-time loan repayment calculator, audio, video and pdf guides, and useful posters and speakers packs in case you want to do a presentation about funding to others in your union.
Student Finance England has produced resources for learners and practitioners. Union reps will find the practitioner resources very useful for advising members about funding for higher learning.
The UK Government information site, GOV.UK, provides also provides links to information about the Disabled Students Allowance and to bursaries and other financial awards.
If you are not eligible for a tuition fee loan, or do not wish to have a loan, there may be other forms of financial support available. It is important to check with the providers you are interested in studying with about the financial support or discounts that they can offer you.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has produced the Employer and Employee Core Script, which has key messages for your employer about supporting employees to study at a higher level while working.
Higher education at work: Making the case to employers
Unionlearn has produced Higher education at work: Making the case to employers, a guide about the skills and knowledge you will need to make a case for support for learners who want to progress to higher education (HE). It refers to frameworks and provision in England, but will still be helpful for reps in other parts of the UK.
It helps to answer the questions your employer might have about work-based HE and the benefits and impact on the workplace if staff take up opportunities at this level. The guide also helps you to research the information you need to make a strong case for securing employer support for members. Union reps and members present their experiences of employer support and their top tips for making the case. Some of the information in the guide may now be out of date, so always check with the websites and resources listed above.