Early September comes along and I’m looking for a course to do this year. I look at the Part-Time degrees in the free booklet from the local University and find an advert for History of Art.
Right down my street, I think – only when I go on their website I discover that the advert in the booklet is wrong: the course is only available during the day.
Instead I opt for English Language & Culture – as language is another of my pet interests. I email the department for details and they respond with a request for application a.s.a.p. as the deadline has already passed. Bear in mind that I rang them less than two days after the booklet arrived through my door.
So I rush together some references and copies of recent certificates. I have no idea where my A Level English certificate is, but as this was taken in 1996 and the course description specifically states “no prior qualifications required” and only requests “evidence of previous study” as additional I assume my maths (taken in 2007) will be sufficient.
Not long afterwards I get an email saying that my application will only be considered upon proof of A Level and spend a hurried weekend trying to find the damn thing to no avail. I have to withdraw from the course – which is probably a good thing in general as there would be no way I could afford it financially.
What particularly galls me about this decision is that I have been desperately trying to find an evening course to improve and update my A Level – but the current system seems to be specifically discriminating against me.
I look on my local college website: but in the light of recent budget and funding changes they have drastically cut back on their evening courses – the only way I can do A level with them is to take time off during the day: something I am unable to do because of my job. This is because the emphasis on adult education has shifted onto getting people with few qualifications back into work. As a result lots of leisure courses (such as photography, creative writing, Tai-Chi and Advanced Karate Macramé) have either folded altogether or been forced to tack on points towards a degree in order to retain funding from the government.
So if you are already in full time work and want to improve or update your skills set you are unable to do so. Although some evening courses do offer points towards a degree they are all points at level 1. The only way to get level 2 & 3 points is to give up your job and go into full time education – presumably selling your house, car and anything else you may be working towards.
So I contact my old school, who used to do Adult Education – but they only do GCSE (the level below A Level) these days, as the colleges do the A Levels…
At the moment I am looking into distance learning: but the companies involved seem very reluctant to tell me their prices – they certainly don’t seem to advertise them on their websites…leading me to assume they are actively trying to dissuade custom. Also the nearest test centre appears to be 100 miles from me, which could cause a problem when I come to take the exam.
Meanwhile I am continuing to look into funding options for a degree, which I would love to do if only pesky bills didn’t get in the way…again I am not eligible for much of the funding available because I chose to go out and work for a living instead of being career unemployed (when you get everything for free)
The good news is that the mad Dutch woman who ran a class on life drawing a couple of years ago has emailed me to say she’s running a non-college course during October. Despite her infatuation with painting pictures of giant penguins I feel moved to support her independent non-qualifications stance and email back telling her to book me a place.