Families of serving personnel very often live a fairly transient lifestyle sometimes moving every 2/ 3 years – between the nations within the UK and also to different countries across the world. This can make it difficult to ensure continuity of FE/HE study. There is therefore sometimes an understandable reluctance to make a commitment to a particular establishment. Funding can also be a challenge for spouses as this still depends on the country (including home nation) in which their partner joined the military and whether they live in married quarters or own their own homes.
If spouses want to use their partner’s Enhanced Learning Credits they have to be able to prove without doubt that their partner will not be able to use them in the future.
Distance learning is often considered if spouses know that they are going to be moving around. Some spouses opt for part time courses which can fit in better with their childcare responsibilities.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national skills agency of Scotland. Their professionally qualified careers staff provide face-to-face guidance including support for young people from Armed Forces families.. Moving between different educational and examination systems can sometimes lead to interrupted learning and some young people find that they do not always have the exact grades which they require for the courses of their first choice. With support from Skills Development Scotland and school guidance teams they are encouraged to highlight their personal circumstances, their other strengths and life experiences in their personal statements
Young people from Armed Forces families can sometimes be very confused about their eligibility for funding. It is really important for HE applicants to engage with SAAS as early as possible – https://www.saas.gov.uk/guides/armed-forces
Some young people have additional caring responsibilities although not officially recognized as Young Carers as they don’t always consider themselves to be a carer so do not disclose. These additional family responsibilities can not only present reluctance in applying for FE/HE but also significant challenges when they actually embark on their studies. They can face additional stress coping with their caring responsibilities at times when assignments are due or during examination times.
The mental health of young people from Armed Forces families can also become an issue, particularly for those who have parents who are in active service and, possibly, overseas in combat zones. They have to manage fear and worry of what, for them, is an unknown and hard to quantify fear and this can, sometimes, come out in different behaviours not readily identified as fear.
Some Veterans can face significant challenges in accessing FE/HE. One of the main obstacles is their concern about funding their studies alongside providing for their families but this can be equally applicable to civilian applicants and should not in itself be a deterrent from applying. Some feel that part time education is the only option for them.
A more significant and potentially overlooked barrier for Veterans is the mismatch between the Military mindset and the Civilian mindset. Veterans can sometimes find it difficult to convert their skills to language which is accessible to civilians and this can lead to a lack of ability to relate their skillset to an academic setting. There can also be difficulties in the recognition of prior learning and experience and the articulation of military experience in identifying entry level for Further/Higher Education.
The Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership has worked with the Military of Defence to map qualifications gained while in Service to the Scottish HE/FE education system. The main aim is to ensure that the qualifications and prior learning gained are understood by Scottish education provider and employers.
You can view the qualifications mapping tool on the SCQF website, here: https://scqf.org.uk/support/support-for-individuals/support-for-veterans/
Veterans can also accrue enhanced learning credits and additional funding from the ELC scheme but again this can involve quite a complex bureaucratic application process and some useful programmes of further education are not recognised by the scheme. There can be a lack of provision in some areas of Scotland for some programmes that are covered by the ELC resulting in additional travel and accommodation costs.
Useful Resources and Contacts
Veterans and the Armed Forces Community – support: 2020 report. This report highlights the Scottish Government’s continuing support for the Veterans and Armed Forces community in Scotland and provides an update on this year’s achievements and work undertaken to improve support and access to services for our Armed Forces, Veterans and their families.
SFC Information about veterans, ex-armed forces and their families This page provides information, advice and guidance to veterans, ex-armed forces and their families on the support and funding options available for those who may wish to study at a Scottish college or university. It also outlines how colleges and universities can join the HE:FE Veterans Champion’s Network.
All Scottish universities and most Colleges have joined the HE:FE Veterans Champion’s Network which means they have a dedicated Armed Forces lead within their institution who can help answer questions from those within the Armed Forces community who wish to consider education.
For information about the Network contact Claire Biggar, Vice Chair of the HE:FE Veterans Champion’s Network email@example.com
Support for Armed Forces leavers and veterans | My World of Work Skills Development Scotland Veterans Landing page on MyWorldOfWork for veterans & spouses/partners.
An event Bringing Professionals together to support Armed Forces Communities to access Higher Education took place on Tuesday 27 April 2021. This was hosted by SCAPP with support and input from Claire Biggar, Inclusion and Wellbeing Consultant and Armed Forces Lead, Edinburgh Napier University, Claire Gammie , Widening Access and College Recruitment Manager, Abertay University, Moira Leslie, Education Manager, Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), Michael Scott, Funding Awareness Officer, SAAS and Peter Tormey, Senior Widening Participation Officer, Edinburgh Napier University
University of Aberdeen Contextualised Admissions page which indicates Armed Forces Communities as criteria for consideration
SCIP Alliance – Service Children’s Progression Alliance The Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance is a partnership of organisations focused on improving outcomes for children from military families. It is hosted by the University of Winchester and supported by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The Scottish Co-Chairs are Tracey Kerr, Heriot Watt University firstname.lastname@example.org and Moira Leslie, Royal Caledonian Educational Trust email@example.com
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