Thinking about Higher Education?

There are many reasons why someone may want to progress onto higher education. Some want to fulfil a lifelong dream, others want to increase their income or study a subject in depth.

As a child, I always wanted to be a child psychologist. I always imagined myself with a clinic on Notting Hill. As an adult, I felt compelled to complete a psychology degree.

It’s funny to imagine my 9-year-old self with such big dreams. Fast forward to me at 16 when I was preparing to start my A levels and take the next step of my journey to become a psychologist when my grandparents died. At this point, I put my psychologist dream on hold. I ended up dropping out of school and beginning an NVQ in childcare.

Well, I was still working with children, so I was part of the way towards my goal. My childcare career lasted for 2 years. I then started my own cleaning business. After 10 years running the business and having 2 children, psychology was calling to me.

I have often asked myself why I didn’t just carry on with my psychology dream when my grandparents died. After some searching, I realised there were a few factors at play. First, I didn’t think I was clever enough and second, my grandmother would pay me to clean her bungalow – I think that’s why I opened the cleaning business as it made me feel closer to her (we specialised in cleaning for the elderly and vulnerable in the community).

I decided to go back to uni when I realised that as the business grew I was spending less time with my children and I was quite far removed from my passion, working with people. So, I packed up the business and signed up to uni.

I think the challenges that I faced as a mature student and as a mother are different from those faced by traditional students. These are challenges that I believe many women going into higher education may face. Some of the challenges may put women off returning to higher education. However, I need to say that women who complete a degree on average earn 20% more over their lifetime – so it’s worth the investment in yourself.

Looking back, I remember thinking about finance, childcare, balancing assignments and life and everything else that comes with returning to education as a mature student.

Funding and support on your degree

I was pleased to find that there is lots of support for women and mothers who want to join higher education.

Student finance can help you fund your course. In addition to your student loan, you can receive additional grants that do not need to be paid back.

  • If you are on a low income you can have 85% of your childcare cost paid.
  • Parents can also receive a parental allowance for course-related costs such as books and travel.
  •  There’s an Adult Dependents grant for those with financially dependent adults.

Additional support

If you have a learning difficulty, health problem or disability you can apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance. This is an allowance for

  • specialist equipment ( e.g. computer), 
  • non-medical helpers ( e.g. specialist mentor or note-taker),
  • extra travel to attend your course ( subsidised taxi travel) 
  • other disability-related support such as proofreading. In addition to this, universities have funds to support parents and individuals on a low income.

Not only do you have financial support via student finance you may also be eligible for state benefits if you are on a low income.

Discounts for students

You can also receive discounts in lots of high street stores and online when you join student discount groups such as TOTUM and Student Beans. Travel is also subsidised with an 18- 24 railcard ( which isn’t just for 18-24-year-old… You just need to be a university student).

I am happy to say that there is a lot of support for women (upto 60 years old) and mothers who want to complete a degree as a mature student and that support helped me to get to where I am today.

Do you have a dream of completing a university degree?

Has the information provided in this blog post helped to understand the support available for a university degree?

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