skip to main content

Compulsory education might end when you leave school, college or university, but there’s no reason not to carry on learning throughout your life.

People are choosing return to education no matter what their age, many learning new skills or getting degrees in their later years.

Further education

Further education describes education below degree level that takes place after leaving compulsory education. It may include vocational courses, apprenticeships, National Vocational Qualifications and A levels.

For more information, contact your local council website or visit Careers Wales.

Higher education

Higher education describes learning that leads to a first degree, master’s degree, PhD or professional qualification. It includes Continuing Professional Development modules for those already in the workplace. Degrees and higher degrees are awarded by universities, most of which now offer distance and online learning.

The Complete University Guide provides information on UK university courses and tuition fees, including distance and online courses.

If you are a Welsh student studying in the UK, you are eligible for a tuition fee grant which means you will only pay £3,810 of the university’s £9,000 per annum fee for a full-time degree course (September 2015). Tuition fee loans are available. Some degrees are funded by the NHS, e.g. nursing, radiography, etc. and the Care Council for Wales awards a limited number of bursaries for social work degrees.

You can also borrow money to help with your living costs – this is known as a maintenance loan. The amount you can borrow depends on your household income. If your household income is under £50,020, you can also apply for a Welsh Government learning grant.

For more information, including what additional help is available for disabled students, visit Student Finance Wales.

Community education

Community education generally takes place in settings like schools and community centres. Courses range from GCSEs, business/IT qualifications and languages to non-academic subjects like sugarcraft, needlework, art and computers for fun. Contact your local council for more details.

The University of the Third Age (U3A) offers educational, creative and leisure opportunities for older people. There are local groups throughout Wales.
Call: 020 8466 6139.

Distance learning and online courses

If you want to learn without going back to college – perhaps because you have caring responsibilities, a disability or live in a rural location – you might prefer to study at home.

Visit Careers Wales to find out if distance learning would suit you.

Future Learn offers free short online courses from universities around the world. Courses start on a set date to encourage a social experience and typically require three hours a week participation.