STUDENT FINANCE: When maturity offers few benefits

When Ken Fletcher was made redundant he found that twenty years' experience in printing and publishing was not enough to land him another job. Employers wanted graduates.

So Ken decided to get a degree. Now 42, he has a BA Hons in English from University College London.

As last year's Mature Students Officer he understands how tough it can be combining studies and family life, as well as managing on a student budget. His three-year course has left him pounds 4,000 in debt.

"It was a shock learning to get by on pounds 3,500 a year after having an income of pounds 28,000," he says. "My children were independent and I was divorced, so I only had myself to support. But my lifestyle completely changed. I moved from a three-bedroom house to renting a one-bedroom flat near college. I seldom eat out. I spend less on clothes and entertainment. Still, it's been worth the sacrifices."

For this year's intake of mature students the sacrifices are likely to be even greater since the older students' allowance has been withdrawn for new entrants.

The allowance - which ranged from pounds 300 at the age of 26 to pounds 1,045 for those aged 29 or over - was introduced twenty years ago to help meet childcare costs and other commitments.

Judi Billing, head of student services at Middlesex University, where 40 per cent of students are 26-plus, says: "It's ironic that while we are reaching out into the community to encourage older people to return to education, the government is making it as difficult as possible for them to do so. Single mature students may be able to ease their problems by become hall wardens, for instance, so they can live rent free. Those who are parents depend heavily on our subsidised nursery facilities. Even so, I don't know how they will cope."

The University of North London has a reputation for attracting mature students: last year 1,032 students were under 21, compared to 2,350 who were older. Maureen Dyer, 28, a former nursery nurse from Leyton, east London, who has a four-year-old son, is starting her second year of a four-year BEd there.

Despite taking out pounds 2,900 so far in student loans, she is finding it hard to make ends meet. "Tyler always needs clothes, he's growing fast. He's allergic to dairy products but a litre of soya milk costs pounds 1.05. The only way to manage is to budget for the year - and make sure you get all you can.

"Last year I got a list of educational trusts from the college and I made twelve applications for support towards my childcare costs. One came through. It made all the difference.

"On the other hand, mature students have some advantages. We're used to handling money - and we've usually been through a period when we could spend as we like."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz