Higher Education

Higher Education

Looking at higher education can be daunting when you've got caring responsibilities but we've outlined below loads of the info you'll need to make the right choices for you.

4Nineteen or over with no A Levels?

Access to Higher Education courses prepare people for study at university, who don’t have the typical qualifications.  They are designed for people who are returning to education.

My education was very interrupted and I felt I was too old because my friends had already gone to uni.  Then I somehow found out about Access courses.


 (Link to Emily’s podcast)

Most courses take 1 year and can be challenging (but rewarding!).  The Access to HE Diploma is a Level 3 qualification, so it’s like doing A Levels.  But note that there will be college fees if you have already have achieved Level 3.

There are different courses depending on what subjects interest you for future university study, for example:

  • Animal Management
  • Art & Design
  • Business
  • Computing
  • Engineering
  • Social Care

Find out more here

University at College?

Some Further Education colleges offer BA/BSc Degrees in partnership with universities.  The tuition fees are lower and you can study while living at home.

Another option at Further Education colleges is doing a Foundation Degree. The entry requirements are typically lower than for Bachelor’s degrees. Course content has more focus on employability, with business links for work placements.  Foundation Degrees take 2 years full time or 3 years part-time.

You then have the option of taking a ‘top-up’ year to a full degree, although you need to do a new application.

I decided to stay at college because everyone knew me and I didn’t have to explain everything all over again.  After 2 years of working and getting myself together, I applied to Roehampton and I am so excited


Read more about Lauren’s experiences here.

Living Away?  Near or Far?

It may be easier for you to succeed at studying and gaining independence by moving away from home, although this can be a huge step for carers and families. Try to imagine how often you will want to come home.  It can be very stressful for carers to face the high cost and time to travel a great distance.  It’s a good idea to look at the train connections and prices.

Because I was a carer, I had £500 from the uni which was enough to pay for my travel home

Apply for universities that are both near and far so you can make this decision closer to the time of starting.

Changes at home may need to be planned well in advance of starting university.  We can help you think about what might need to change, and plan some steps that will make it easier for everyone.

Money for Higher Education

2020 entry information
Bursaries and Scholarships

You don’t pay these back.  Each university will have different criteria.  They are based on need and on special talents, for example academic, sporting or musical. Some universities offer bursaries and other extra help to carers.  Check each website carefully or contact the Widening Participation department and ask what help they offer.

Tuition Fee Loan

Fees can be up to £9,250 per year. The money goes straight to the university, so you don’t see it or manage the payments.

Maintenance  Loan

This is for living costs, and depends on your family income.  It’s higher if you are studying and living in London.  You get this in your bank account three times a year. Important for carers living at home – If your parents earn less than £25,000 you can get a loan of up to £7,529 per year.

Paying back loans

When you are earning over £26,565, you pay back 9% of your earnings above £26,565.

What that looks like:

You earn £27,000 per year
Amount over £26,565 £27,000 – £26,565 = £425
You pay 9% of anything over £26,565 9% of £425 = £38.25
You pay every month £38.25 / 12= £3.19/month

More useful info on finances

Money Saving Expert Student info

Government student loan info