Want to study but not able to attend college?

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Want to study but not able to attend college? Time to consider On Line Learning, Flexible/Open Learning, or a Correspondence course. These options are not mutually exclusive, often overlap, and are ideal if you are in work and want to update your skills, to enhance employability, to prepare for redundancy, or work towards a career change. 

It'sis interesting to see the impact of IT, not just for study materials but also in the number of free courses offered. 

Free On Line Courses are available at all ability levels and offered by universities, colleges, professional bodies, and private providers. They are a useful starting point for getting back into education, as an introduction to the method of study/subject matter and as a foundation for further study. On completion, you will generally receive a certificate showing the topics covered. Gaining recognized qualifications or accreditation of competency may involve costs, for registration with the awarding body, attendance at an examination centre or certification

The range of topics is incredibly varied. here are some examples: Acrylic Painting, Archaeology, Art History, Astrobiology, Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Artificial Intelligence, Basic Geology, Climate Change, Community Journalism, Discover Dentistry, Elements of Renewable Energies, English Common Law, Enhance your Career and Employability, Entrepreneurship, Football: More than a Game,  Forensic Psychology, Healthcare Careers, Heart Health, How to Change the World,, How to Read your Boss, How to Succeed at Interviews,  HTML Game Development, Introduction to Cyber Security,  Introduction to Wines, Managing Money, Mars:The Next FrontierNine Myths about Schizophrenia, Nutrition, Rethinking Feminism,  The Meaning of Life,  Shakespeare,  Sustainabilit,  Understanding Dementia,  Warhol, Web Science and lots lots more!

Free course Providers: Alison , FutureLearn , MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and Open University OpenLearn , edx , Open Education Consortium                                                                       

Local colleges and other providers will offer specific free courses, or remission of fees depending on your existing qualification level, personal situation, or financial circumstances. It is always worth checking…………but don’t assume that your local college will offer the course without charge! 


Correspondence Courses have been around for a long time and enabled many people to gain professional qualifications whilst in work. Traditionally study materials were received and retuned through the post. Courses can be expensive and fees rarely attract subsidies, regardless of financial circumstances!  As there is a vast array of providers and courses, it is important to ensure you are using a reputable, accredited provider e.g. National Extension College (Tel:0800 389 2839)

Check your course through :  Open & Distance Learning Qualification Council , Association of British Correspondence Colleges , Federation of Awarding Bodies  or Specific Awarding bodies such as  City & Guilds , Edexcel  etc. 

Be wary of sales people coming round to your house, pressurizing you into signing up straight away. Check if there is a selection procedure…………………… I’ve seen clients spend considerable sums of money on unsuitable courses, they obviously would not be able to complete, yet were locked into spiralling payments.               Scams exist even in the education sector!


Open Learning is offered by many mainstream education providers and is more flexible than traditional class based teaching. It uses workshops, online study, or work-based learning and may include some attendance for tutorials or group sessions. Fees will generally be required but financial support may be available in accordance with standard guidelines. Renown providers in the sector are the Open University (Tel: 0845 300 60 90) and Open College of the Arts  (Tel: 0800 731 2116)   

Important note about Vocational Qualifications

You  need to check if you are doing a full award or ‘Credits towards’ as this makes a significant difference to your employment prospects. A unit of Child Development at Level 3 is not the same as a full award, which may involve 12 units. You will also need accredited practical experience to gain the full qualification required by employers.

As you are likely to be putting considerable time and effort into any course you take, make sure you carry out the necessary research to ensure you are making the best possible choice  

For professional, impartial advice or further information, contact Adrienne at Work & Beyond or checkout the rest ofthe site to see how we work

Footnote:  Interesting article by Sarah Willis FE News 10/12/14 'Are MOOCs making or breaking privilege?'