Funding/Trusts for Asthma sufferers for education

Hello all,

I was wondering if anyone had any advice... I've been off work and at home since January now, and have been on steroids ever since. We've slowly been trying to reduce them- I'm under an asthma nurse at the hospital. But unfortunately last week I came down with a chest infection.

Before this in June, I applied for college for this September. However I live on the outskirts of London and have to get the underground into London to go to college (local colleges don't do anything | want to do). I thought that by this point I would be ok, but I'm not.

I decided to leave college and look into online courses, as I plan to hopefully (fingers crossed!) go to University by the sea next year. Getting the money for the online course is a problem. It's £230 for a 12 month course, obviously I'll have to get it done quicker to get to uni. I'm just sick and tired of having to put my life on hold and all that's holding me back is this money. I don't have that money, and neither does my mum who I live with.

After hours of searching on the net, I've come across one trust that might be able to help, but their deadlines are soon, and then they take 3 months to make a decision. I just wanted to know if there is anyone in the same situation as me, and can advise something? I don't know who else to turn to, or who else to contact. I'm going to send a letter to my council, enclosing a letter from my asthma nurse. But this could take forever!

Does anyone have any information for me? Or at least anyone who understands what stress I'm going through with this!

Thanks, Nat.

12 Replies

  • I helped someone get funding for an online course by going to the job centre with them. The Disability Employment Advisors have a discretionary fund where they can give a person upto £250 to support their eventual return to employment. So in your case it would be to get a qualification so that you can go to University. They can be quite strict with the money so you really have to put your case forward about why it is unfeasible to travel and why an online course is better for you flexibility wise because of the way your asthma is at the moment.

    Your local library will also have a big book which lists all the trusts and grant making organisations available to different groups of people. That is worth a look if you can get there.

  • Thank you for your message back. I have just emailed them, to see if I am eligable. I'm only on Income Support and not disability allowence. I don't know if I'll be able to get any help, but I will go to the library and have a look at some books. Thank you!

  • Hi Nat, Just a thought, but have you considered the Open University ( I've been studying with them for a few years now, and although it takes discipline it is wonderful and they really want you to succeed. Funding isn't an issue either as you can get financial assistance, which can be as much as 100%. This is what I get - 100% of my course fees are paid, because I'm on benefit - and partly because of being on benefit, and partly because I'm registered disabled (generally, but also with the OU) then they actually give me a couple of hundred pounds for each 60 credit course to cover the extra costs of learning - books, stationery, travel expenses to tutorials etc. They are truly fantastic and have always done everything they could to make studying with them as easy as possible. I have an exam for my current course in a couple of weeks time, but because of the potential for perfumes etc to set my lungs off, and the general unpredictability of my asthma, then I'm having my exam at home - they're sending an invigilator to my house. I've also been allocated an extra hour in case I need to use my nebuliser during the exam.

    I know that studying with the OU isn't the same as going to a brick college or brick university, but it's not as isolating these days as it used to be as there's a huge online community through the OU's own internet/intranet thingumy (you get software for it when you register for a course). I've made some fantastic friends, both locally and nationally, and have met up with some of them too.

    It might be worth considering so give it some thought, and don't hesitate to pm me if you want to chat more about it.



  • hi, I am guessing that you are trying to do A'levels as you say that you want to go to university next year. You say that your local college does not do the courses you need. However I think it might be worth checking if any of the 'private' schools near you do the courses that you want. If they do, you might be able to do some lessons there and some at the local college. That way at least you would have teacher support. I would try asking your local education authority about this, but I would find out if you can find the courses you want at any nearby schools before you approach them

    Also all the other replies offer sensible options too. I think that although On-line learning is great you do have to be very disciplined and that if you are unwell that it can be very difficult to get started again. You might try calling the Sutton trust. 020 8788 3223 and explain your circumstances. They offer funding and advice.

    This may be of no help, but I hope you manage to sort things out. I hate it when asthma starts limiting peoples lives.



  • Thank you all for your advice. It's been most welcome!

    Becky.. Thanks for mentioning the Open University. I've already looked in to what they offer, and I need to do a level 3 course before I can go to Uni. Although I think they do a few but in subjects I'm not interested in. Don't want to sound fussy, but I've had my heart set on writing courses for ages! However, if I am still ill next year, and unable to go away to University, I will most likely turn to Open University. I've seen their degrees and they are good!

    Rihobbs... Thanks as well.. I don't really want to do A levels, as it costs so much more to do them individually. Plus, it would take two years, and I'm eager to get to uni! There aren't many private schools near me, in fact I think most are a bit away :( Which is a shame, coz I would consider that. I've really prepared myself mentally for doing an online course, and I'm the sort of person that gets something done. Even if I find it boring! I like to think I have a lot of self discipline. Thanks for that telephone number, I'll give them a ring on Monday.

    Ahh I just hope I manage to get something sorted, as I need to start as soon as if I want to start applying for Uni!

  • What level 3 do you mean - NVQ? The OU levels aren't NVQ levels, but equivalent to the level of work you'd be doing in different years at a brick university, so that an OU level 1 course is equivalent to first year uni; level 2 to second year uni etc. If it's writing you want to do then again the OU is great. It's what I'm doing! I started off with a short course in writing fiction (I've also done a short course in writing plays), then went on to the second level creative writing course (course code A215), and next weekend I start the new 3rd level course in creative writing - A363. There are also plans in the pipeline for the OU to do an MA course in creative writing, which I think is expected to start in 2011. It's what I'm working towards so they'd better get it sorted! ;oP

    Good luck with your studies, and again, if you want to pm me then please do.

    P.S. The other thing to say is that you don't need any qualifications at all to start with the OU so don't get too hung up again needing that level 3 thingumy. Your regional office will be able to advise you about level of study that might be suitable, but they will never dictate what you should be doing.

  • Yeahh level 3 NVQ basically.. they are equivelent to A levels. But that's interesting to know about Open University, and how you don't need qualifications. That's really good. I might message you actually!

  • Hi Nat, I got your pm, but I can't reply to you privately, because you have your preferences set to not receiving pms. If you change your settings and then pm me again to let me know they're changed then I can get back to you.

  • Done! Thanks.

  • Great. I've replied.

  • Hi nat im just starting an OU course for the first time it began yesterday eeeek! im doing a diploma in health sciences, have you had a look on the OU site??? my diploma is made up of individual courses that cost around £350 each. because I receive benefits i'm entitled to help with the cost I think its around £800 a year, so basically like becky I pay nothing! hope you find something soon


  • I have just commenced a graduate diploma in professional development (counselling) at Glasgow Caledonian University which I am doing via distance learning and I am currently applying for a disabled students award.

    As with regard to the OU, as an OU graduate I totally back Becky up, however, there I did have problems in my first year where I was refused an extension on an essay by my tutor even though I had been unwell, however this was a one off.

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