Sixty per cent of Birmingham adults would consider returning to education, but many feel held back by cost-of-living crisis, poll finds
Nearly two-thirds of adults across Birmingham and the West Midlands would consider returning to education, a poll commissioned by BMet college group has found, but many potential learners are being held back by cost of living concerns.
BMet, which operates three colleges across the city, commissioned polling company Survation to survey 1,000 adults across the West Midlands to gauge their attitudes towards education.
The polling comes at a time of increasing focus on adult education but reveals one in four adults do not believe they are still eligible for formal education, including at university-level.
Childcare and age cited as barriers to education
Ninety-two per cent of respondents said they left education before the age of 25, but sixty per cent would consider returning to education. However, just 13 per cent would consider returning full-time with the majority being open to returning part-time.
Of those who would not consider returning to education, over a third of adults cited cost as the reason while a similar proportion cited time constraints.
Other barriers cited by respondents include “childcare,” “my health,” and that they find it “hard to learn certain things”.
Respondents also said they were “too old” to take part in education and around a quarter of those polled believe the cut-off age for participating in formal education was 25. In fact, there is no cut off age and adults can attend college or university and gain qualifications at any time.
Over 70 per cent unaware of new government learning loan offer
The government is keen to encourage adults back into education through a new Lifelong Loan Entitlement, which will give adults access to a loan worth “four years’ post-18 study,” or £37,000. Legislation to roll out the policy in 2025 was put before Parliament earlier this month.
Yet BMet’s polling found 60 per cent of Birmingham adults and 70 per cent of West Midlands adults are not aware of the entitlement. Just 13 per cent of respondents from across the region said they were ‘strongly aware’.
While 45 per cent of respondents were able to correctly identify the policy as pertaining to education, a total of 55 per cent thought the entitlement was to pay for rent or energy bills.
College group stands ready to realise adults’ education ambitions
These findings come as BMet is enrolling students from across the age range on its wide array of courses. These include:
- Part-time study opportunities
- Degree-level courses including HNCs and HNDs
- Access to Higher Education courses, which enable learners to progress to degree-level courses
- Community courses, including to prepare learners for work and digital and IT tuition
- Free courses for jobseekers
- Online courses in business and health and social care
BMet’s wide selection of courses to suit every type of learner is complemented by careers advice, strong links to local employers, mentorship and support services, and excellent facilities.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about BMet’s suite of courses should visit the website.
BMet principal and chief executive Pat Carvalho commented: “While these survey findings demonstrate that there is a great enthusiasm in the West Midlands for adult education, we are also concerned by many of the findings.
“Many adults feel they are being held back from taking part in education by a lack of income and time. That a quarter think they are too old to take part in formal education is also a damning indictment of society’s attitudes towards adult education.
“We will be ramping up our efforts to communicate to our local community that further education is much more accessible and affordable than they might think. We also want to show potential learners how education and training can open many new doors for not just their career, but their social and family life.”