New College has become one of the first in the UK to offer a pioneering new method of studying for a university degree in the local community.
This opportunity is the result of a new partnership between the college and leading UK distance learning provider RDI, forming a new study model called OnlinePlus – online study with the added campus access and weekend seminars.
Starting in October, local residents will be able to study for university awarded degrees in Business, Computing and Psychology, learning online while also benefitting from a social and academic life on campus through ‘associate student’ status.
Applications are now been taken for the October 14 intake.
A sports centre, gym, chaplaincy, open learning centre, counselling service and full IT support are just some of the New College campus facilities on offer to “OnlinePlus” students.
The aim of the partnership is to make university degrees more accessible to local people, and more affordable – OnlinePlus fees are the equivalent of £3,995 per level compared with to up to £9,000 per level for full-time on-campus university study.
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to combine increasingly popular online learning, with the full support of the local New College facilities. This will be of great benefit to both busy, hardworking people and local businesses seeking to invest in their staff – a real boost for our town and local economy.”
Students choosing to study through OnlinePlus at New College are also entitled to apply for a tuition fee loan to cover their course fees from the Student Loans Company. Student loans are available to all ages, with no upper age limit on tuition fee loans. This provides the financial confidence for a working adult or parent to take that step into higher education.
College principal Graham Taylor: “This is an exciting development which opens up new opportunities and important new subject areas for our students, and for the wider local community.
“We are especially proud to be one of the first further education colleges in the country to offer this new way to study a degree which fits around busy people’s lives.”
Phil Hallam, CEO at RDI said: “These degree courses now offer the best of both worlds – the flexibility of distance learning with the reassurance of regular face-to-face contact with tutors, in a familiar local environment.
“This will particularly appeal to working people and those with family responsibilities – putting a university education within their reach and within their local community.”
Student case study: Megan Farr
21 year-old Megan Farr is one of the first students to sign up for an OnlinePlus course with New College. From October, she will be studying for her BSc (Hons) Computing (Top-up).
“I’ve been at New College for the past four years, in which time I’ve completed an IT Practitioners BTEC and an HND in Computer Science. I knew I wanted to progress to a degree, but to do that I was going to have to leave New College as until now this wasn’t an option.
“I couldn’t afford to go away to university and I also wanted to be able to get workplace experience while learning. That’s why I started researching distance learning degrees.
“I’d actually nearly enrolled on another course when I found out New College was launching Online Plus and offering the course I wanted to do! “
For Megan, the blend of online and face-to-face study – together with being able to still use campus facilities – was a big plus.
“It’s perfect for me. I can continue working to save money and then also look for relevant work placements to improve my employability, all while learning online but still getting that familiar ‘in-person’ interaction that I like. And I love the New College campus. I’m also still eligible for a student loan which is great.”
Megan’s long-term plan is to teach IT and she feels this is an important step towards that ambition.
“My Computer Science HND class at New College was the first to do that subject and now I’ll be one of the first OnlinePlus students too. It’s great that New College is offering this option and it will certainly help me with my career plan.”
For further details on the courses available, visit www.newcollege.ac.uk/HEOnline