Helen Brown of UL writes on what benefits you can gain by part-time study, and how it can help you work towards both your educational and career goals.
Do you want to gain a qualification to get that promotion?
Do you need to up-skill to stay abreast of technology?
Feel like a change of career direction?
Well the good news is that there has never been a better time to upskill through part-time study and here’s why;
Rapid technological development in the workplace means new skills will have to be developed constantly throughout your career with lifelong learning now becoming the norm for more workers.
Certain impediments are often cited for not returning to education such as work, costs and lack of qualifications.
Trying to juggle study, work and home life can be overwhelming. In my role here at UL, we work with students understand the challenges of busy adult learners and we strive to develop and design programmes to facilitate flexible learning. Many of our programmes have been created in collaboration with industry to meet skills needs and support personal development.
Through part-time study, you will gain practical real-world knowledge and experience that you can apply immediately in your current role or to future career ambitions. This year, over a third of our postgraduate and professional population are studying either part time, online or in a blended manner.
Blended delivery gives students the best of both worlds allowing you to study the majority of your course work online when it is most suitable while also offering you face-to-face tutorials at regular intervals throughout the programme. For some of programmes, using UL as an example, you are only required to attend class on campus 3 Saturdays per semester and the rest is online.
Along with the flexible programme design, there are many educational supports available to assist part-time and professional students such as direct access to tutors, peer-to-peer discussion groups in addition to on campus supports.
It may seem indulgent to decide to go back to college when there are so many other things that need your attention financially. However if you do your homework there can be a funding mechanism that may be suitable for you and your circumstances.
For example, did you know that?
- If you are employed you can get 90% funding for a chosen programme through Springboard+ and 100% funding if you’re unemployed or returning to the workplace
- If you work in a particular sector, there is often part-funding for courses if your company is a member of a Skillnet network
- At UL we now offer seven apprenticeships from diploma to doctorate level with considerable reductions on course fees.
- You or your company can claim tax relief on part time study fees
More and more companies are developing their employees to retain them and are very open to sponsoring individuals on their educational journey, so if you are employed your first port of call should be your training manager. Looking to upskill while you’re in employment shows that you want to improve your skills, expand your knowledge on best practice or the latest industry standards and show that you are ready to move up to the next level. Many programmes have cost-saving projects included as part of the curriculum and this is a great incentive for your company to support your studies.
Meeting the entry requirements
Many returning to education worry they don’t have the necessary qualifications to apply for a particular programme. However, applicants lacking a formal degree can apply to be considered through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
RPL is a process that allows you to gain admission to a programme of study based on demonstrated learning that you may have achieved through another programme of study, or through work or other learning experiences. RPL recognises that knowledge and skills can be acquired from a range of learning experiences, including accredited, non-accredited and informal training including on-the job experience.
We have found that many learners who do not have prior formal qualifications bring a wealth of experience to the programmes and their contributions to peer learning is immeasurable.
Now’s the time to take the plunge and enhance your career through part-time learning. Take the time to find a course and an institution that suits your requirements.
It could be your best decision yet.
Helen Brown works in Business Development and Customer Relations at UL.