Friday, 12 July 2013

Who Knew.....

....that trying to go back to university could be so difficult? Getting the place on the course turned out to be relatively easy (thankfully I didn't have to go through UCAS and such, but achieved my place by going directly to my chosen university and applying for a place) its everything else that is proving incredibly trying. I'm hoping my experience detailed below, will help someone else who is struggling in this situation.

My main obstacle seems to be receiving funding, either from the university itself, or from Student Finance. Due to already having a BA, and wanting to achieve another one, most funding options are closed to me. Going on to another BA course is classed as doing an Equivalent Level Qualification, something seemingly frowned upon in the eyes of Student Finance. 
The first port of call when investigating funding options was to go directly to the university. They offer a scheme where if your household income is less than £42,000 per year, £7,000 of fees are waived, and you also receive £1,000 cash and £1,000 in your student account. As I only work part-time, and am classed as an independent student, I fit the majority of the criteria (others include being a permanent UK residence and being accepted onto a full-time course) Brilliant......or so I think. The final criteria is based on where you live, as in coming from a low income area which generally has few university applicants. Unfortunately, due to living in Canterbury, a relatively affluent area, I failed this criteria and therefore could not be accepted onto the scheme (It does seem somewhat ridiculous that something as simple as that could potentially ruin someones chance at university) 
Thankfully, I managed to find a solution. On the Student Finance website, I found the following:

Exceptions - graduate entry medical and dental degrees

Students who start their course from September 2009 onwards who already hold an equivalent or higher level qualification will only be eligible for Maintenance Loan if their new course leads to a qualification as a:
  • Medical Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Veterinary Surgeon
  • Architect
  • Social worker
  • or if the course attracts an income-assessed Healthcare Bursary (NHS course)
BINGO! Something of a happy dance did occur when I saw this, especially once I had spoken to an advisor who took my details, and said it would be fine. So, 34 pages of forms later, I now have a 6 week wait to find out how much funding I will be able to receive. 

I have to admit that after the initial set-backs, there wasn't a part of me not willing to fight for my place. I know a lot of people would have given up long before now, but something occurred at a recent university Open Day. There was not only a tour of The School of Architecture (the level of the work has officially panicked me!) but I also attended a talk on the architecture course. During the talk, we were informed of the different modules that we would study across all 3 years. This lit a passion in me that I had relatively forgotten. The excitement of studying some of my favourite architects in the very first term is phenomenal. Along with design, we will be taught the history and culture of architecture, as well as technology and environment. I know that the workload is going to be massive, but its something I'm looking forward to. 

Time management is definitely going to be a key factor, so a new diary has been purchased in preparation!