J_2021
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Hey all, 31 year old Model Making and CNC technician here. I'm looking at retraining to get into Mechanical Engineering with a part time course, but I'm struggling to work out which courses are best for me to get the qualifications I will need to get onto the following course:

BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering:
https://www.lsbu.ac.uk/study/course-...ring-beng-hons

A Level BBB or;
BTEC National Diploma DDM or;
Access to HE qualifications with 24 Distinctions and 21 Merits including 3 Distinctions in Maths and 9 Merits in Physics or;
Equivalent level 3 qualifications worth 122 UCAS points
Level 3 qualifications must include Maths or Physical Science
Applicants must hold 5 GCSEs A-C including Maths and English or equivalent (reformed GCSEs grade 4 or above).


I might find a different course between now and when I can actually apply, but I don't have the qualifications to meet the minimum, and I need a course(s) that will get me there.

I have:

- 290 UCAS Points Total
- 1:2 BA (Hons) Model Design (Special Effects)
- 3 A-Levels, Eng Lang: C, Physics: E, Geography: D
- 9 GCSEs C+'s, including Maths: B, Science Double BB.

As well as several years of work experience in the Film and TV industry, and a City and Guilds carpentry qualification.

I'm just not very familiar with the grading scheme, the qualification levels, BTEC or A-level or anything else since having left education a while back, and generally just need some pointers please! I am already in contact with the National Careers Service, but I thought that asking here as well might be beneficial.

Many thanks.
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MindMax2000
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Yeah... UCAS has changed a bit since the last time you did your degree, so you need to look at the points again.

I'd recommend doing the Access course if you're just trying to get into South Bank. The Access course is usually 1 year as opposed to 2, as with the BTECs and most A Levels. You can do an Access course at a local college, but as far as I know there is only one college online that does Physics and Maths at that many credits - they're not cheap and they only open enrollment once a year. The key question you need to ask colleges about the Access course is how many credits they do for Physics and Maths.

You won't be able to do A Levels at sixth form colleges. The college you need to go to needs to cater towards adults, and that's usually where you will also find the BTEC courses being offered. If you want, you can try to do your A Levels with an online college, and then find a local exam centre to test for them. If you're more hands on than academic, I think the BTEC will make more sense.

There are other level 3 qualifications, such as T Levels, Level 3 diplomas. For a full list, see the following: https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qu...ication-levels
The most accessible and preferables would be the BTECs, A Levels, and Access courses (A Levels being most preferred), given how much more available they are.

If you want, you can try to call up South Bank Uni undergrad admissions office to see whether you can get onto the course if you just did a Maths A Level instead of any of the above. I'm wary because of the marks you got with Physics, and how long ago you did your A Levels (there's apparently a shelf life for them when it comes to uni applications).

A few things you will need to think about before applying though:
As you've done a level 3 qualification before (A Levels), you're not likely to get access to student finance for your Level 3 qualification.
That also applies to the bachelor's degree, since you've already done one on Model Design.
You should be able to get student finance for a master's or PhD should you wish.
i.e. in order to do the Mechanical Engineering degree, you will need a way to finance the degree yourself. With the ELQ policy issued in 2010, it's not likely you will be able to pay at £9250 per year either, but you will need to ask the university to be sure.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
Yeah... UCAS has changed a bit since the last time you did your degree, so you need to look at the points again.

I'd recommend doing the Access course if you're just trying to get into South Bank. The Access course is usually 1 year as opposed to 2, as with the BTECs and most A Levels. You can do an Access course at a local college, but as far as I know there is only one college online that does Physics and Maths at that many credits - they're not cheap and they only open enrollment once a year. The key question you need to ask colleges about the Access course is how many credits they do for Physics and Maths.

You won't be able to do A Levels at sixth form colleges. The college you need to go to needs to cater towards adults, and that's usually where you will also find the BTEC courses being offered. If you want, you can try to do your A Levels with an online college, and then find a local exam centre to test for them. If you're more hands on than academic, I think the BTEC will make more sense.

There are other level 3 qualifications, such as T Levels, Level 3 diplomas. For a full list, see the following: https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qu...ication-levels
The most accessible and preferables would be the BTECs, A Levels, and Access courses (A Levels being most preferred), given how much more available they are.

If you want, you can try to call up South Bank Uni undergrad admissions office to see whether you can get onto the course if you just did a Maths A Level instead of any of the above. I'm wary because of the marks you got with Physics, and how long ago you did your A Levels (there's apparently a shelf life for them when it comes to uni applications).

A few things you will need to think about before applying though:
As you've done a level 3 qualification before (A Levels), you're not likely to get access to student finance for your Level 3 qualification.
That also applies to the bachelor's degree, since you've already done one on Model Design.
You should be able to get student finance for a master's or PhD should you wish.
i.e. in order to do the Mechanical Engineering degree, you will need a way to finance the degree yourself. With the ELQ policy issued in 2010, it's not likely you will be able to pay at £9250 per year either, but you will need to ask the university to be sure.
On the last part, student loans are available for second degrees in certain subjects, with part time engineering being one, so they should be ok for tuition fees.
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
On the last part, student loans are available for second degrees in certain subjects, with part time engineering being one, so they should be ok for tuition fees.
I have tried to look this up with certain universities myself, but there is little luck. As far as I know, where ELQ is applicale and people want to do healthcare and biological degrees, there will be funding for and the uni won't charge more than £9250 as per the usual undergrad home fees. For other degrees within the STEM field such as engineering and physical sciences, I've only seen Nottingham uni saying they won't raise the prices above the £9250 threshold provided students study on a part time basis.
I have not seen other universities saying something similar to the above as of yet. Can you enlighten me on this?
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
I have tried to look this up with certain universities myself, but there is little luck. As far as I know, where ELQ is applicale and people want to do healthcare and biological degrees, there will be funding for and the uni won't charge more than £9250 as per the usual undergrad home fees. For other degrees within the STEM field such as engineering and physical sciences, I've only seen Nottingham uni saying they won't raise the prices above the £9250 threshold provided students study on a part time basis.
I have not seen other universities saying something similar to the above as of yet. Can you enlighten me on this?
http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/fees-and-funding/equivalent-qualifications

https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/who-qualifies

The OU link explains it somewhat better.
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J_2021
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
Yeah... UCAS has changed a bit since the last time you did your degree, so you need to look at the points again.

I'd recommend doing the Access course if you're just trying to get into South Bank. The Access course is usually 1 year as opposed to 2, as with the BTECs and most A Levels. You can do an Access course at a local college, but as far as I know there is only one college online that does Physics and Maths at that many credits - they're not cheap and they only open enrollment once a year. The key question you need to ask colleges about the Access course is how many credits they do for Physics and Maths.
I have done, now its come to 106, quite the difference! Thanks for letting me know!

I am struggling a bit to find an Access course for Mechanical Engineering, I did ask the LSBU about it and they have a Extended Degree Programme Engineering which would get me from where I am to being able to get on the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering according to their chat service.
Its a total of 9 years of studying time....

So that route is a bit nuts, I'm guessing its not the Access type course you mean? Can you link me to the kind of thing you mean please?
I kind of think that if I do a course(s) that bring my A-levels up to a BBB or higher with Maths & Physics included that will push me above the 120 UCAS requirements and i should be able to just apply for the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering straight away wont it? Or am i missing something?

A BTEC National Diploma (which I've just been looking at after you mentioned it) seems like an interesting route, Is there a website that lists the courses? Have been looking for institutions near me that do them.

I have a way to fund the course (not signing on for organised crime or anything) so I should be able to afford it, its just knowing which course at this time.

Thank you for replying to my thread!
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MindMax2000
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(Original post by J_2021)
I have done, now its come to 106, quite the difference! Thanks for letting me know!

I am struggling a bit to find an Access course for Mechanical Engineering, I did ask the LSBU about it and they have a Extended Degree Programme Engineering which would get me from where I am to being able to get on the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering according to their chat service.
Its a total of 9 years of studying time....

So that route is a bit nuts, I'm guessing its not the Access type course you mean? Can you link me to the kind of thing you mean please?
I kind of think that if I do a course(s) that bring my A-levels up to a BBB or higher with Maths & Physics included that will push me above the 120 UCAS requirements and i should be able to just apply for the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering straight away wont it? Or am i missing something?

A BTEC National Diploma (which I've just been looking at after you mentioned it) seems like an interesting route, Is there a website that lists the courses? Have been looking for institutions near me that do them.

I have a way to fund the course (not signing on for organised crime or anything) so I should be able to afford it, its just knowing which course at this time.

Thank you for replying to my thread!
9 years sounds about right if you do it part time (it will include the BEng as well). I kind of value my time a lot more than money, so if I do manage to find a way to raise the funds needed, I'd probably pay the full fees instead.

I've checked LSBU's webpage: https://www.lsbu.ac.uk/study/course-...xtended-degree - what they mean here is that you are more or less doing a foundation year (equivalent to a Level 3) on top of your BEng, so you should end up doing the degree in 4 years with the BEng if you do it full time, 5 years if you do it part time or do it with a sandwich year (year in industry). You might want tyo check with LSBU on this.

In terms of access courses, your local college should do them. I don't know where you're based, but the following should be an example of Access courses that should be suitable:
https://www.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/co...er-2020/#study
https://www.coventrycollege.ac.uk/co...e-engineering/
https://stcg.ac.uk/kingston-college/...iploma-science
Note: each of the course has at least 9 credits in physics modules and at least 3 in maths. If they don't say, you need to ask to clarify, otherwise LSBU might not accept the Access diploma.

The following would be an online Access course for engineering:
https://www.stonebridge.uk.com/cours...ma-engineering
I've called up their hotline regarding their syllabus and the number of credits for physics and maths, and it seems to check out. You might want to check with the college then the uni.

Another online course would be:
https://aspirecourses.com/courses/ac...ce-engineering
Note the following:
  • There are 2 graded modules in maths, one with 3 credit and the other 6. If you fail to get at least distinctions in either modules, you fail LSBU's critera
  • There are 4 physics modules worth 3 credits each. If you fail to get at least merit in at least 3 of the modules, you fail the criteria
  • This sort of interpretation applies to any Access course, but it is laid out better here.

An online Access course for physical science (chemistry, physics, and maths) would be:
https://teachltd.com/access-physical

You will need to find courses that are accredited and examined by an external awardomg bodye.g. Access to HE. An example would be the following: https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/course-search
Other credit awarding bodies include CAVA (https://www.cava.ac.uk/) and Ascentis (https://www.ascentis.co.uk/qualifica...gher-education). There should be others.

There are universities that do their own Access courses, but they might not be recognised to the same extent to other universities:
https://www.derby.ac.uk/undergraduat...ploma-science/
https://www.gla.ac.uk/study/short/ac...olment2020-21/
Should you choose to take these, I'd check with LSBU first.
On the other hand, you could also do the mechanical engineering degrees at Derby or Glasgow after you've done their access course (the individual university won't reject the credibility of their own courses).

The university Access programs are not materially different to foundation degrees. I don't know where the distinction lies, but they are both Level 3, but Access courses are roughly £3k (offline) whereas the foundation degree is £9k (give or take a few hundred pounds). (Online Access courses can cost as low as £1500, but as high as £2500.)

In terms of A Levels, the sort of online colleges you can look at include:
https://www.icslearn.co.uk/courses/a...l-mathematics/
https://www.ncchomelearning.co.uk/ma...s-a-level.html
https://www.openstudycollege.com/courses/a-level-maths
If you intend to take the A Level route, I'd recommend retaking Physics as well, since that would seriously help boost your chances of crossing the BBB threshold. You will need to get at least AB overall for both A Levels (presuming LSBU accepts one of your old A Levels as the third).

Bear in mind, the above A Level courses won't include the exam fees and admin fees you will need to pay in order to do the exams. You need to pick the course, find out the awarding body, and then use the awarding body's search engine to find an approved exam centre that take on independent/private candidates.

Examples of suitable BTEC courses would be:
https://www.cwc.ac.uk/courses/sectio...al-engineering
https://www.engc.org.uk/education-sk...courseId=10533
http://www.leyton.ac.uk/615/courses-...in-engineering

I don't think there's a central course search engine from a particular awarding body you can use to search for the course. I'd rely on Google and search for: "BTEC extended diploma engineering" + your location. Do note that BTECs do take 2 years though, and you can only do it at a college offline.

Either the Access, A Level, or BTEC alone would make you eligible for LSBU's BEng course. Alternatively, you can go into Extended Degree Programme Engineering and not have to worry about the Level 3 stuff. For me, the cheapest and fastest route would be to do the Access course (that is unless you intend to do the 2 A Levels within 1 year or in time for enrolment deadlines).
Should you wish to do a mechanical engineering course elsewhere, the Access, A Levels, or BTEC should get you in. Alternatively, you can do the particular university's foundation degree in engineering/physical sciences before doing their BEng.

I'm kind of curious what your sources of funds are, considering I am resorting to setting up a business in order to fund the degrees I am thinking of doing (including a 3 year PhD, and I'm not confident that I can finish the PhD in 3 years). They aren't cheap and having done a number of calculations, I figured that by the time I have earned enough money from scarce low paying jobs, I might breakeven after 14-20 years.
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J_2021
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Wow, thanks MindMax2000 for your really helpful responses! I'm currently combing through the treasure trove of information you've given/linked me to, so any proper responses will have to wait a while haha.

Quick question though, I think the A-Levels are out of reach with the short time till the exam period, but the Access HE Diplomas are interesting. I will probably have to do them online, unless I can find a place that does them locally, (I live in N.London, near Camden) and I'm trying to learn more about the linked institutions: Stonebridge, Aspire and Teach Ltd to see what their reputation's and the validity of their qualifications are like.

Stonebridge seems to be a 50/50 split between people hating or loving the experience.

Aspire's website says "Courses are fully booked for 2020, Due to a high level of people wanting to study from home, our courses are now fully booked for 2020." and their enrol link doesn't seem to work. I'm not sure whether it means they are full for early 2021 but am enquiring. Their reputation seems alright.

Teach Ltd is very hard to google because of its name, it literally links me to websites all over the educational sector. Have you had any experience with it or know anyone who has?

I have also read that some of the "distance learning course providers only have to be accredited by choice, so if they choose not to and are not on any governing bodies list" they can be quite difficult to deal with at times if things get difficult.

https://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/...-good-bad.html

Many thanks again for all your help, It has given me a bit of a starting grasp on the subject!
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