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Funding part-time higher education

Students who study part time or through distance learning often work whilst studying but loans and other sources of finance are available.

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Working while studying

The major benefit of studying part time or through distance learning is that you can choose to fit your studies around paid work and/or your other commitments.

If you are in work, your employer may be prepared to:

  • pay some or all of your tuition fees
  • cover your other course costs
  • give you time off work for study

Obviously, your employer is more likely to offer support if the course you want to take will help you progress at work.

Speak with your manager or contact the human resources department. Be prepared to provide course details and explain the benefits it will give both you and your employer.

Tuition fees and other costs

Individual universities, colleges and other learning providers set the tuition fees for their part-time and distance-learning courses. Fees vary widely depending on the institution, nature of the course and how long it lasts. If you can’t get a loan to cover your fees, you may be able to pay by instalments.

When considering a part-time or distance-learning course, don’t forget to factor in any additional costs involved, such as for residential schools or course materials.

Funding available

Loans and other types of financial support may be available. 

Students studying part time or through distance learning can usually access Tuition Fee Loans providing that the ‘intensity’ of the course is at least 25% of a full-time programme. 

Part-time students can also access Maintenance Loans to help with their living costs. The student loan for living costs will vary depending on where you live, your household income and the intensity of study when compared to an equivalent full-time course. Maintenance Loans are not currently available for distance learning (apart from for certain disabled students), but the government is considering introducing these for new students from 2019.

You can find out more about funding for part-time higher education at GOV.UK and through The Student Room

Some providers of distance-learning courses offer bursaries or other types of financial support. See The Open University website for details on fees and funding for their courses, including OU Bursaries

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