Think of education and you think of youth. Institutional learning is a preface to work – something you dedicate anywhere between the first 16 and 25 or so years of your life to and then leave behind for good, to enter the world of work until you reach retirement.
That’s the traditional way of thinking. But there’s no reason why education should be denied to people later in life – in fact, if older people want to keep their knowledge and skills on a level with their younger colleagues, it may even be necessary for them to continue to learn new skills and update their knowledge in order to keep up.
This fact is reflected in the government’s decision last month to abolish the age restriction on student loans. Previously loans were only available to people up to the age of 54; now there is no restriction, so a 65-year-old pensioner is able to borrow money to study a degree just as an 18-year-old college-leaver is.
But with many people now working long into their sixties, it’s simply not possible for the average sixty-something to commit three years to studying a degree in a traditional university setting. For the typical 65-year-old, learning has to be done in a way that allows them to continue to work – in a way that doesn’t necessitate regular attendance of classes or lectures during working hours.
For these people distance learning is the perfect solution – there’s no more flexible way to gain a new qualification or to pursue a long-held interest than by studying at home.
NEC was set up with people like this in mind, and has courses to support lifelong learning for students regardless of their age or the stage of their career they’re at. We offer professional qualifications, A levels and GCSEs/IGCSEs, as well as more special-interest courses in counselling and the arts, perfect for people who want to learn something new but aren’t looking for a qualification at the end of their course.
By 2033, one in four people in the UK will be aged over 65. There’s no reason at all why this sizeable portion of the population shouldn’t have as easy access to education as everyone else. Learning and full-time work do not have to be mutually exclusive, and NEC is proud to enable study for people regardless of their age.