Part-time students: 10 things you need to know
Does the idea of becoming a part-time student appeal? Part-time student numbers have taken a hit recently, but the options available are increasingly flexible. We explain more...
Part-time, flexible options are increasingly on offer from universities and colleges to enable you to embed your degree studies into the rest of your life. We've got the key questions covered below.
You can now search for part-time courses right here on Which? University – we've got all the Ucas-listed undergraduate options.
Part-time course checklist
1. Do all universities offer part-time courses?No. The number is growing but choice is limited, especially if you have no leeway on location. The exception is Birkbeck, University of London, which has always specifically recruited part-timers.
Sometimes, but not always. Ucas does list some part-time courses - you can also search for these by filtering courses by the 'part-time' option on Which? University – but many other part-time courses are advertised and recruited by universities themselves. It's a good idea to check direct.
2. Do you apply through Ucas?
No Ucas doesn’t mean no worries. Don’t leave it too late, ideally applying six to nine months ahead. You will still have to complete an application form and perhaps go to a university interview.
Maybe - but there tends to be greater flexibility here, too. Many unis will consider 'non traditional' students for part-time courses, and they will give you brownie points for relevant education, training and experience, rather than traditional entry qualifications. This is especially true of mature students.
3. Will I need A-levels or other qualifications?
But however amenable the uni, it will still want reassurance that you’re likely to complete the course. And for certain subjects they ask for particular A-levels, Highers or Ucas scores.
It depends on how much time you have to devote to the course and how it's structured. Think typically five years, but possibly as long as 10 years, depending on time, motivation and personal circumstances.
4. How much longer does a part-time degree take?
Some courses let you vary the number of modules or credits taken each year or even have a beak from studying. Others have a more rigid schedule, following the same timetable as full-time students.
Maybe – but it's very much dependent on the course and the university. In many cases you’ll have to attend on pre-set times and days and work your other commitments around this. Distance learning might be a better bet if you are keen to learn, but time poor.
5. Can I choose my hours to suit myself?
Funding and fees for part-time students: see what's available
Maybe – check the course description to see what type of course it is. Some are dedicated part-time courses, with no full-timers allowed. Elsewhere, you might be working with different groups of both part-time and full-time learners.
6. Will all my classmates be part-timers too?
When you're looking at a course on Which? University, we list out the percentage split of full-time / part-time students taking specific subjects at that university, to give you an idea of the current student mix.
Yes – as a general rule of thumb. If you’re still in your teens, you might find yourself in the minority. But think: you could learn just as much from those who already have some life and work experience as from the course itself.
7. Are most part-time students older?
When you're course-hunting on Which? University, look for the breakdown of young / mature (over 21) students currently taking that subject.