Part-time study - Issue of the Week - 18th February, 2013

Students studying part-time at UK universities are on the decline the latest figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show.

The number of students graduating from part-time courses in 2012 dropped by 5.3% for undergraduate students and 7% for postgraduate students it was revealed last week.

Unfortunately this seems to have become a worrying trend. In 2011-12 the number of part-time students beginning their first year dropped by 8% and 14% for undergraduates and postgraduates respectively.

These noticeable drops, coupled with anecdotal evidence of even larger drops in applications this year, are particularly alarming.

Benefits of part-time study

The benefits of part-time (PT) study are vast; it can transform people’s lives and wellbeing without the necessity of studying full-time.

Part time study can enable real flexibility, allowing learners to maintain an income whilst studying, or balance study around family or other commitments. Students can gain valuable qualifications which can broaden the mind as well as increase the prospects of getting a job or earning a higher salary.

According to a new report co-authored by Brikbeck’s Professor Claire Callender, Futuretrack: Impact of Part-time Learning Two Years After Graduation, part-time study can offer a high level of job stability.

The report monitored students in their final year of study and two years after to observe the impact of PT learning on career progression. It found that: 88% of graduates felt their studies helped them develop as a person; 78% said it improved self-confidence; 63% said they had taken on more responsibility at work; 83% felt better qualified to do their jobs.


Since September 2012, the Government has been investing more in PT learning through new tuition fee loans - with 75% of those studying for the first time eligible to receive funding.

But if PT application numbers are to recover from their current slump the Government and higher education sector must work hard to communicate this message clearly to both the public and employers.

More needs to be done to champion the value of lifelong learning and the possibilities offered by studying part-time alongside other commitments.

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