It might be easier than you think to broaden your horizons. Whether you want to gain a specific vocational qualification or try something just to prove you can, there is a world of free and funded opportunities.
For example, did you know that top universities offer courses online for free? Or that there are countries where the colleges and universities don’t charge tuition fees? And there are dozens of grants and bursaries aimed at helping people in a specific situation to do a particular type of training.
Also don’t forget, for residents of Scotland, if you want to study in Scotland, your first, full-time undergraduate course is usually free.
Study abroad for free
You might wish you’d heard about this before the UK voted to leave the EU but a handful of countries in Europe offer free university tuition to EU citizens. In Germany only undergraduate courses are free. In Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, you’ll find free courses up to PhD level and in Greece they’ll even pay for your textbooks.
Many courses are taught in English, particularly at post-graduate level. And if you’re not sure that putting your home on Airbnb would cover your living costs, there are distance learning courses in some subjects, in English, for free, with a recognised qualification at the end.
There are many countries that offer an excellent but much cheaper education than is on offer at home. Fire up your Google and have a look at what France, Iceland, Austria and Argentina have to offer.
Free courses online
If you just want to learn about something and don’t need a particular qualification then you are in for a treat. For how to replace a washer on a tap, go to YouTube. For science, engineering, management, humanities, computing, languages and so much more, try one of these.
EdX has 6 million students in 50 countries studying courses prepared by some of the world’s leading universities. You can read reviews of previous students to help you choose, proceed at your own pace and sometimes there’s an option to buy a verified certificate at the end.
University of the People is slightly more formal and charges small fees to cover their admin for registering new students and processing exam papers. They offer Batchelor’s and Associate degrees in three subjects: Business Administration, Computer Science and Health Science.
Coursera is much like EdX and has a mix of free and for fee courses
The Khan Academy is also free and aims to help children as well as grown-ups
Help with retraining
Where there is a skills shortage, sometimes the government offers incentives to study, which can be a financial bonus for qualifying, fast-track courses or easier entrance requirements. If you’re an engineer thinking about becoming a maths teacher or a nurse thinking of returning after years away raising a family then you can expect to be welcomed with open arms.
Have a look at:
Get Into Teaching
Grants, bursaries and scholarships
Many small foundations exist to help people overcome the specific obstacles encountered by their founders. Some small charities provide small sums each year to help people with a specific disadvantage or from a particular place, into education or training. Expect a long search but you might just find someone looking to help someone exactly like you.
Free information about funding at all levels across the UK. There is no need to register and lots of advice
Save The Student
Very much aimed at teens away from home, this site gets to the point and under Student Finance you’ll find a good list of funding resources to try
Lots of advice for people considering a career as a doctor and some for those thinking of nursing or dentistry. Not only do they have a list of charitable trusts you can apply to but also advice on how to apply
City and Guilds
This qualifications body provides a small amount of bursaries each year to cover fees, living costs and childcare if you’re studying for one of their qualifications.
Social Work bursaries
A guide to get you inspired
Of course Money Saving Expert has produced an excellent guide to all this, including a list of free short courses to whet your appetite.
Image by iStock.com / jacoblund
First published in Widows and Widowers magazine, Issue 13