If you are looking to retrain for a new career but can’t afford to give up work entirely, or need to be home for family commitments, then you should consider part-time study at a college or university.

There are so many flexible ways to study and train that fit in with your existing schedule. A popular option for mature students is to take a course at the Open University. However, a full-time degree is still too much of a commitment. Studying part-time can be a cheaper way to get an excellent education and access to resources while continuing to work and earn.

Taking a course part-time means that you do the same work and for the same qualifications but for only half of the time each week. Sometimes this means your course will be longer than full-time students. However, there are some courses that offer for you to study fewer modules to allow graduation in the usual period whilst still earning a full degree or diploma. If you would prefer shorter, more skills-based courses there are some options that don’t offer full degrees. Such options include a week-long cryptocurrency course or a nine-month online graphic design course.

Universities and other educational institutions offer a variety of part-time and flexible study:

  • You can take a Distanced Learning course, where you study remotely in your own time and from anywhere. You rely on email, forums, video chat, and the occasional residential day to interact with your tutors and peers.
  • Work Based Learning (WBL) is an excellent option for those already in a job related to what you want to study. You can use work tasks for assignments, and your study load is much lighter, as you’re already in the industry. These courses are part-time and supported by universities and colleges
  • Blended learning is a mixture of online and face-to-face education. This means that everything you need for the course is online 24/7, allowing you to work in whatever hours suit you. With the additional benefits of reaching out to tutors for in-person support when you need it.

Part-time courses don’t expect you to structure the course yourself; they guide you on balancing work with studying and how you can use your experience in the workplace to aid your studying.

If you are employed and are thinking about taking a part-time course, speak to your employer to see how they can assist you. You may be able to take on an adult apprenticeship within your own company, to train and work at the same time. Or your employer may allocate you time off for your studying.

Taking a part-time course is helping to refresh your knowledge and skills, making a better employee. See this is as an opportunity to progress in the workplace and show your employer how this will benefit them too. It’s a great way to enhance your career if you are looking to move up the ladder or are thinking of applying for a promotion, as well as starting in a new industry altogether.

Many part-time courses are cheaper than full-time courses and usually require no upfront cost. You are entitled to a government student loan if this your first time taking a university degree, and your course has at least 25% ‘course-intensity’. ‘Course intensity’ measures how much of the course you are studying in relation to a full-time student. You are entitled to both tuition fee loans and maintained loans paid with regard to your household income, course intensity, and where you will be living while you study. To find out more, visit the government website for Student Finance.

For more on changing careers, have a look at our information regarding how to retrain.