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Encouraging more men to study

men studying survey

We recently discovered in a nationwide survey that 70% of men haven’t completed any form of education since the age of 30.

The research, which polled 2,000 UK males, explored the reasons behind men not wanting to invest further in their education and found that a quarter (24%) admitted to having no drive or motivation to study, while almost half (43%) said they didn’t think additional qualifications were necessary to progress in their careers.

As a distance learning provider passionate about making education accessible to everyone, we want this to change!

An opportunity to improve career prospects

You will have no doubt seen the news recently that the Office for National Statistics recorded an all-time high of 1.1 million job vacancies in the UK. By publishing the results of this survey we’re aiming to shine a light on the opportunities available for men and encourage more males to invest in their education to improve employability and career prospects.

Samantha Rutter, our CEO said: “This new research isn’t surprising as only 20% of our own learners are male. We understand there are many reasons for this, a number of which highlight the differences between male and female learners. Men feel less pressured than women to give themselves every advantage to progress in their careers as they are not affected by the ‘glass ceiling’. Men are also less likely to take career breaks and therefore feel they don’t need further education, but in today’s competitive workplace, our research shows that it’s more important than ever to give yourself every opportunity to improve your employability and career prospects, whatever your gender.

“At Open Study College our ethos has always been to make education accessible to everyone, which is why we pride ourselves on our flexible learning solution, removing the pressure of set deadlines and the need to physically attend a school or college. We hope this research will shine a light on the opportunities available and encourage more men to take a leap into further education.”

Links between mental health and studying

The survey also highlights the need to do more to help with men’s mental health:

  • Over two thirds (69%) of 18-30-year-olds polled said they have struggled with their mental health in the last two years.
  • 42% said they had taken up studying as a way of improving their mental health.

Hear from our male learners

As Samantha, our CEO said, at Open Study College around 20% of our learners are male and a real mix of ages from a variety of backgrounds, studying for their own individual reasons.

For some, studying is something they do to simply keep their mind active and fill their time, for others, studying forms part of a plan to overhaul their career.

Open Study College learner, Steven, has studied two courses in both Level 3 Personal Training and Level 3 Mental Health and Social Care, he said: “I choose distance learning as it helps me concentrate at home, and I can work around it with no set time limits. Learning via Open Study College means that I can go at my own pace and time, I can plan my studies around my life, not the other way around.

Once I’ve completed this second course in mental health and social care, my plan is to combine the skills and knowledge gained through my level 3 personal training course with this one and start my own business. I’d really like to teach people about the benefits of exercise and how it plays a huge part in helping with mental health. I’d like to create an environment where people can come and won’t be judged or feel embarrassed when talking about how they’re feeling.

“Open Study College has helped me so much. They kept me focussed and got me out of a really dark place when I hit rock bottom.”

Jon is another Open Study College learner who enrolled on his first course aged 52! Jon retired from the police and was looking for something to do to prevent him from feeling bored at home. You can read Jon’s full story on our blog.

You're never too old to study

Additional findings from the survey identified that younger generations put more importance on the need to gain qualifications:

  • 92% of 18–21-year-olds felt that additional qualifications were necessary to progress further in your career, compared to only 38% of 41-50-year-olds.
  • Even fewer (26%) of 51-60-year-olds said that they felt extra qualifications are necessary.

The poll also revealed a stark contrast between generations when it comes to further education:

  • Only one in 10 (11%) 18-21-year-olds surveyed had stopped studying after A Levels (post-secondary education), while a third (29%) have gone on to study a Master’s degree.
  • In comparison, almost a third (29%) of 51-60-year-olds said they had finished their studies after GCSEs and only 6% held a Master’s degree as their highest qualification.

This is not the case for all men, however. One of our learners, John aged 74, has enrolled on several courses with us over the past five years.

John says, “I would strongly recommend students of my age to think seriously about distance learning, especially during the times in which we live when we have been more restricted to our own homes. It’s important to keep the intellect alive in later years and completing a course and receiving the accreditation acts as a tremendous boost to one’s mental health.”

John is an inspiration to many and proof that you’re never too old to study!

International men's day

Our campaign to encourage more men to study kicked off in November, to coincide with International Men’s Day (19th November.) In addition to commissioning the research, we have also collaborated with Birmingham Brewing Company to mark the campaign. Together we have created ‘The Study Buddy’, a limited-edition, citrus flavoured, low-alcohol (0.5%) pale ale which learners enrolling in November will receive.

We are also partnering with men’s health charity, Movember, to give away a distance learning course worth £750 via an exclusive social media competition on International Men’s Day, to again highlight the opportunities available to men.

So, let’s open up the conversation, speak to your male friends, relatives, and colleagues, could they benefit from distance learning like Steven, Jon and John have?

Note – OnePoll survey commissioned by Open Study College of 2000 males in the UK. September 2021.

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