Going back to university: Is it right for me?

Stuck in a dead-end career? It might be time to go back to school…

Going back to university to gain another qualification, start afresh after not finishing a previous degree, or even take on postgraduate study, could be a great way to enhance your career prospects.

But is going back to university the right decision for you, and will it suit your current situation? Here are a few tips to give you an idea of your options:


You want to change careers, but you don’t have the relevant qualifications…

The desire to go back to university often comes down to unhappiness in your current job.

Whether it’s because you’re struggling to find work in the field you’re actually qualified in, you’re stuck in a dead-end role, or your dream career just didn’t turn out the way you thought it would, going back to university to study something new could be exactly what you need to finally land your perfect graduate job.

And don’t be daunted by the prospect of jumping back into education.

No matter how long ago it was or what you studied in the past, your previous university experience will have taught you more than you think. Even if the subject is new to you, you’ve probably already gained a variety of transferable skills to help you hit the ground running.


You’re on the right path, but you need extra qualifications to progress in your career…

Going back to university might not mean changing your degree subject completely. Instead, you could enhance your career opportunities within your preferred field by studying for a post-graduate qualification.

For example, some industries will require PhD or MSc qualifications in order for you to advance or earn a higher salary. These can often be studied alongside a job, and many employers will offer them as part of an employment or career progression package.

Not only could going back to university help you move forward, it could also help you to branch off into a particular specialism within your field of work.


You’re keen to gain a new qualification, but you have other commitments…

If you’re currently tied down by other commitments, such as work or raising a family, that doesn’t mean you can’t get back into education.

A variety of courses offer online, distance learning, and work-based learning options, which will allow you to study wherever you want, without compromising your busy lifestyle.

You could also choose to study part-time, or take on an accelerated or extended course to speed up your degree – so there really are no excuses not to get started.


You want to go back to university, but you’re not sure you can afford it…

Cost is always an important factor when it comes to making the choice to go back to university – and the amount of funding you’re entitled to will depend on your individual situation and circumstances.

As a general rule, you qualify for student finance for your first full undergraduate course, as well as an extra year on top of that. But how will taking on further study affect your eligibility?

If you’re repeating a year: there are many reasons why you’d need to repeat a year at university. And whether it’s because you had to drop out temporarily due to illness, you didn’t achieve the grades you needed, or you transferred to a different university, you’ll always be entitled to funding for the year you missed – thanks to that extra year of finance.

If you’re starting a new course after dropping out: in this situation, the amount of student finance you’ll get will depend on how long you studied before dropping out of your first course – with your added bonus year of funding taken into account (usually adding up to four years in total).The previous year(s) that you received student finance will then be deducted from your next course.

If you’re studying for a second degree: if you already have a degree, you won’t usually be entitled to any further funding. However, some courses may still offer payment of tuition fees – although you may not receive a maintenance loan or grant.

Additionally, you may be entitled to a variety of bursaries and loans, including a career development loan designed specifically for those wanting to develop their career with further study.

For more information on your eligibility, visit the UCAS website.


Not sure what to study? View all available university courses now

Find a job