Taking on Blackstone

November 7, 1997

BARONESS Blackstone writes of the scope for growth in higher education from non-traditional sections of the population - "older men and women from lower middle-class and working-class backgrounds" (THES, October 17).

I have obviously got my sums wrong and need some help. It costs me Pounds 4,700 a year to keep my son at university in living expenses only. Further children will cost around Pounds 5,500 a year. I can only pretend to afford this because I work full-time.

Here is my problem: If I was one of those "non-traditional" recruits, presumably the cost to me would be about the same as it costs me to send my own children.

But if I was going to university, then I would not be able to work. So how would I pay my Pounds 5,500 a year just to go to university and then how would I pay for the house, food, bills and keeping my children?

If I decided to do the degree part-time, my costs would be more like Pounds 12,000 a year, as I would have to pay all my fees and not just a contribution towards them, so that would not really help would it?

I really like the sound of all this lifelong learning business and I think it is excellent to give those who missed out the chance to do it now.

But could there be some sort of introductory course in how to go about it, because I just cannot figure out how it works?

Christine Doubleday Botley Road Oxford

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