Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsMany applicants want a degree, but can’t study full time. There could be a variety of reasons – some may have family or caring responsibilities whilst others need to combine a full-time job with their studies. These situations might make it more challenging to enter higher education, but it need not be the end of the dream. Many higher education providers offer the opportunity to study part-time for a degree. Some professionally focused courses are specifically designed for this, using block release, evening and weekend classes as well as online learning. Developments in online delivery of education and training mean there are many more distance and blended learning opportunities available. Contact with tutors and fellow students can be made through a variety of different methods.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsThese are flexible learning opportunities, which give students more control over the time, place and pace of their studies.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsThere are some important points students need to consider though: • Gaining a degree studying part time usually takes a minimum of four years • Compared to studying a full time degree students need to be motivated, organised and have the self-discipline to manage more self-directed study • International students in the UK on a student visa can’t study part time for a degree Over the course of this step we’ll explore flexible learning opportunities and look at the types of people it suits.

Alternatives to full-time study

Many people want to do a degree, but can’t study full-time. In this step, we will explore a variety of flexible study options and who they might suit. Get started by watching the video, then find out more in the article below.


Many higher education courses can be studied part-time, and some career-related or professionally-focused courses are specifically designed for this. These are often delivered via evening and weekend classes, day release, or study breaks, helping students manage their studies around their lives. If you’re considering part-time study, it is important you discuss the structure and options of the course you’re interested in with the university or college before you apply. UK and EU part-time students who meet the eligibility criteria can receive a tuition fee loan to pay for the cost of their studies. It’s important to note that international students who are in the UK on a student visa cannot study part-time.

Distance and blended learning

Developments in online learning mean there are now many more distance and blended learning opportunities available. These can give a good mix of learning from the experts, while also using course and learning materials which are available online.

Using a range of materials, students undertake course activities and assignments with regular support from tutors, interacting with fellow students via email, online forums, phone, and virtual conferencing. These options often include day schools or residential weekends where students work with other students on a specific project, followed by continued contact to work together, resulting in another residential weekend where results are presented and assessed.

Studying in the workplace

This can have real advantages for people in full time jobs – students can use their work activities in their assignments, receive support from their university or college tutors, their study load is lighter as they’re learning ‘on the job’, and they can earn a salary.

Some course providers partner with official organisations to create customised programmes – right through from certificate to doctorate level. For example, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) offers a flexible study programme for those already working in the industry who want to qualify officially.

What type of people suit flexible learning?

There are obvious benefits of flexible learning for people who are working or who have family/caring responsibilities. The flexibility it offers gives students more control over the time, place, and pace of their studies. It can be a good option to gain qualifications for particular professions or job roles, as well as for those who are looking for career progression or to change career direction.

Part-time, distance, and blended learning courses require students to be really well organised and have the self-discipline and motivation to manage more self-directed study.


For the most part, a flexible course takes longer than full-time study, but students still cover the same syllabus, assignments, classes, and exams. Gaining a degree studying part-time usually takes a minimum of four years.

As most part-time, flexible courses are modular, it’s often possible for students to vary their schedule each semester. That said, it’s easy to underestimate the time and commitment needed, so it’s wise not to take on too much at first. Obviously the less time students study, the longer the course takes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

For example, an evening degree could be four evenings a week for three years, or two evenings for six years. During the course, students may be able to increase how much they study, so they’d complete the course sooner.

The UCAS search tool enables you to filter courses by ‘flexible/part-time’ courses. Many universities also have a wider range of blended learning courses so, if there is a subject you’re interested in, it’s really worth checking out what’s available at your selected universities or colleges.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Smart Choices: Broadening Your Horizons