In this post we look at all the different ways you could be saving money on education and training if you wish to try and better yourself no matter what stage of life you may be at.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) are free courses. The Open University runs their own courses, which operate from a subsidiary website, OpenLearn, which is highly reputable, accessible and run by experts in each field of study. OpenLearn lets you register and gain accreditation by taking its modules and courses, and you can download certificates and badges. Other websites that are reputable and offer MOOCS are EDX, Coursera and FutureLearn. They are mostly delivered in the same way, which is by a series of lectures, videos and interactive activities, set and ordered over a number of weeks. They are all free, but a small payment is required for certificates and other types of accreditation.
The website Khanacademy.org offers free-for-all lectures and information sheets on a variety of academic subjects. The website is accessible and well maintained, but a possible drawback is that it is US based and therefore some lessons, particularly on the subject of the English language, might not be as helpful as finding a UK based source of educational training.
There are also many other websites around that offer free academic content for brushing up your knowledge and skills, or even learning to a specific level, e.g. GCSE level or AS level, in most subjects. As an example: to learn maths, there are Maths EG, MathTutor and Maths Choices websites. In English, there are several resources that include helpful notes on set texts and grammar work. If you prefer a hard copy of a book, you can save money by checking out the ‘for sale’ section of libraries, or second hand shops or car boot sales, for copies of textbooks at the fraction of the price of new editions.
Of course you can find a wide range of lectures, seminars or homemade how-to guides on a range of subjects from ‘overcoming a low self-esteem’ to ‘knitting a sock monkey’ to ‘conquering Mt Everest’ and everything in between, on the popular website and app YouTube. It goes without saying that not all of these videos are authentic, delivered by experts, or even legal, so use your own common sense in this regard.
You can save money by learning languages online or via apps, for free, or for a low cost. You don’t have to fork out for expensive language learning software such as Michel Thomas. The DuoLingo app is free to use and offers a wide range of languages, at a learning level to suit anyone’s needs. You can choose how long to devote to language learning each day, and the app will remind you, and set out a dedicated lesson, based on your overall learning performance. Byki is another helpful free app. Similarly, there are many websites that allow you to learn a language at your own pace, or to interact with others to learn for free.
Of course, nothing is better for language learning than total immersion and having conversations with real people, so for that, you can try meetup.com, whereby there may be a group in your area for people to interact with others in the target language, often charging a small fee. Language exchanges are also useful, and involve one-on-one contact with a national of the language you’re learning, so you spend half the time talking in their language and half talking in yours, benefiting you both.
If professional tuition is for you, check out Gumtree or other private ads, which can often be cheaper than attending a proper course or class.
Most people studying for a first degree in the UK will be eligible for a student loan from the Student Loans Company (SLC), which, nowadays, is not means tested. There are specific rules for non-UK or non-EU nationals, so check out the website. If you’re ineligible for a student loan, there are other schemes run by individual universities, and they all offer hardship payments too, which could help with living costs.
Scholarships and other sources of funding for higher level
For those wishing to study towards a Master’s degree of PhD or Doctorate qualification, the cost can be significant if you have to pay for this yourself, running into the tens of thousands of pounds. Fortunately, there are many scholarships and sources of funding available for these. One good resource for locating these is findamasters.com, which outlines many different funds. Universities’ own websites also may list some sources of funding and schemes available for lowering the cost. As a last resort, you can get a career development loan (CDL) which offer competitive rates of interest, from banks including Barclays and NatWest.
There are countless places to get vocational training more cheaply, too. Many companies offering professional qualifications such as in accountancy or HR training, offer discounts on their social media pages, refer-a-friend bonuses, or even cashback through sites like Quidco. If none of these apply, you can use a cashback credit card to pay for the training, and at least get something back. And remember that often these types of training courses make you eligible for a student discount card, e.g. NUS, and they will save you money on everything from books to burgers.
Have you tried to learn at a later stage in life? How did you go about funding the course if you did? – Let us know below!