Vocational or work related diploma courses - such as Health and Social Care (leading to a career in care or nursing) or Assessing - are available with no money to pay upfront, and where student loan fees are only repaid when you are working and earning over £21,000. In some cases the loans can be legally written off and never have to be repaid.
Universities and approved Colleges of Further Education (FE Colleges) all offer courses funded by the student loan scheme and this year hundreds of millions of pounds will be used by students who study in the UK.
Despite this, millions of pounds of funding and loans are not taken up, perhaps because students are confused or afraid of ending up with a debt at the end of their studies.
The reality is that the repayments are relatively painless and many student loans will be written off, for instance when a student takes a loan for a level 3 BTEC course and then goes on to higher education.
There are also fully funded or free courses such as government-backed Apprenticeships, like those offered by London Cactus College in North London.
With around a million young people not in employment or education (NEATS), the UK government are pumping billions of pounds into apprenticeship courses (e.g. in health and social care, business admin, child care or hairdressing), which are combined with paid work arranged by your training provider.
London Cactus College specialises in vocational and management training and offers a huge range of courses in everything from Child Care to higher level diplomas in management. Many of their courses are totally free to the student (subject to qualification) and others offer a £500 bursary or grant!
College head, Jackie Aiyela feels that people of all ages are missing out on opportunities to further their education and enhance their career prospects:
"Many people are not aware that there are opportunities to further or get back into education - from basic maths and English, SIA Door Supervision, right up to diplomas and degree level qualifications - most either free or paid for via student loans.
"Our courses are all work related and lead to real employment opportunities, for instance apprenticeships with paid jobs, and transferable skills."
"Our trained career and course advisers are on hand every day to help students decide the on the best way forward for their needs."
Now you know about it, you have no excuse not to do something about it! If you need to gain further qualifications, the UK really is the 'land of opportunity'.
For further information on funded or free courses, contact London Cactus College Tel 0208 381 1838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Middlesex House, 29-45 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7UU. . Website: www.mycccollege.com