Getting into formal learning

person holding a leaflet with text 'Milestone Qualifications'

The idea of formal study can be daunting, particularly if it’s been a while since you were last in a classroom – and perhaps didn’t enjoy the experience then.

UNISON learning aims to help you take the next step on the road to where you want to be.

What would you like to do?

I’d like to get back into study but don’t know where to start

Our Return To Learn and Women’s Lives courses provide a welcoming and supportive route back into study.

Return to Learn and Women’s Lives

I want to study at university but don’t have A levels

An Access course (Access to Higher Education diploma) is designed to bring you up to speed in the skills and knowledge you need to begin a higher education course. Access to HE courses are delivered by colleges in England and Wales, and are available in a range of different subjects, such as nursing, social studies, law, and art and design.

Access to HE

I want to study without quitting my job

Most universities offer part-time courses which allow you to balance the demands of work and study. UNISON is very pleased to work with Birkbeck University of London and The Open University.

Formal study with Birkbeck University of London

Formal study with the Open University

I am looking for help with the costs of study

We are delighted that many universities and colleges offer discounts on fees to union members. And if you need help with the costs of study, we may be able to help out with a bursary or learning grant.

Financial support

I am disabled and find study difficult

Studying can be a challenge in a world that assumes that everybody is the same. Most academic institutions will have Disability Services who will be able to advise you about the support available to you.

We have worked with disability charity Diversity’N’Ability to compile a directory of resources that can make work and study easier.

Inclusive Technology Guide

I want to improve my study skills

Effective studying is largely a matter of practice: experiment until you find a method that works for you. Here are some guides to get you started:






Making the most of online learning

Helping your colleagues get into formal study 

Academic study can be quite a formalised process, and colleagues who are considering this step may appreciate your support. 

Along with the information on this page, you could familiarise yourself with colleges and universities in your area, and find out what kind of support they offer. For example, how do their part time courses work? Is there creche provision? Are there discounts on course fees available to UNISON members? 

You might be able to negotiate with your employer for study leave or other forms of support.