A WINCHESTER college has seen a surge in mature students after the launch of a new educational loan.

The government-backed 24+ Advanced Learning Loans is aimed at people, aged 24 and over, returning to higher education which has led to a surge of people undertaking apprenticeships at Sparsholt College.

Over 400 adult learners are currently pursuing a change in their careers through the courses on offer, including veterinary science and equine studies run by the animal management team, which was recently graded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Helen Carpenter, from Sparsholt College’s apprenticeship team, said: “The apprenticeship route for a successful career in veterinary nursing is a popular choice here at Sparsholt. Not only do we have strong industry links but the facilities we can offer are second to none.

“Alongside the purpose-built Veterinary Nursing Centre we have an Animal Management Centre which houses 500 plus animals from over 100 species. We are always looking for new employers to work with where we can offer this excellent work-based learning provision.”

Among one of the adult learners is 53-year-old Kate Sothcott who works for Pet Doctors in Ryde and attends Sparsholt College one day a week as part of her training.

“The technical aspect of my studies and the knowledge and experience I have gained at college has certainly helped with the practical elements of my job,” she said. “Not only that, now that my understanding is far greater I have found it actually makes my role even more interesting.” The loans operate just like university loans and are paid back once the application is earning over £21,000 per year.