Free Courses for Over 60s – Our Essential Guide
If you're seeking further education or later life learning opportunities, this page might just be for you.
We’ll be exploring the myriad ways you can expand your mind, remain active and indulge your curiosity. Courses and further training have changed quite a bit over the past few decades.
The number, quality, and variety of options available have all exploded. This is especially true if you’re in a large city.
Be sure to check out our guidance further down this page that details how best to source and access these opportunities.
If you know where to look, you won’t have to spend a single penny!
What Kind of Course Would You Like to Try?
As you know, a course or drop-in class can be a phenomenal way to expand your horizons and feed your ever-growing curiosity. The question is, which option will work best for you? At this stage in your journey, it can pay dividends to think about the kind of course you’re searching for.
This will make it orders of magnitude more likely that you’ll find an option that’s a good fit! We run through some of the most common course types below. Keep in mind that your local area may offer slight variations of what we discuss here.
The classic evening-style course is still hugely popular among learners. Classes, predictably, take place in the evening and can fit around your other commitments. If this learning style works for you, you should have no trouble finding opportunities nearby.
However, retired learners may like to choose some of the options below.
The events of COVID-19 mean that remote-learning courses have exploded in prevalence and popularity. In many cases, you can complete an entire course from the comfort of your own home!
The following sites offer great online courses that are free to anyone:
There are many more options out there, but be sure to approach them with scrutiny. Free courses don’t always have the same quality checks or learning standards as an accredited course. Look for reviews and genuine recommendations wherever possible.
Want a course that’s more playful than practical? A hobby course is probably your best bet. Some common examples include painting, photography, sculpting, and life drawing. YouTube can be a fantastic resource to get you started here.
Your local university may offer free courses that can help their students learn. Local colleges often offer an array of leisure courses frequented by older adults. Although these aren't always free, they are often extremely affordable.
Skills and Training Courses
Those over 60 who want to hone their practical skills can access a surprising amount of support online. The UK government has established a number of ways for people to sharpen their IT, Maths, and Language skills, for example.
If you’re looking to change careers after 50, these free options can be a real boon.
It’s never been easier to pick up a new language, truly. There’s a wealth of free information and support available online that can help anyone get to grips with a language of their choosing.
In older life, anything that can keep the mind focused should be considered a priority. What better way to do this than by swotting up for your next holiday?
The following sites offer some great free language courses and skills training:
- Duolingo (focused lessons with additional stories and quizzes)
- Memrise (a flashcard style site that’s great for vocab)
- Babbel (free trial for 15 hours)
- InterPals (find an international pen pal for free!)
The Open University
Those looking for a more substantial course might consider the Open University. They offer a wealth of different options that are often completely free, through the website OpenLearn. The ‘Free courses’ section of their website is surprisingly helpful and is designed to get you exactly where you need to be.
Most courses use a remote learning style that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
Free IT Courses
Many people over 60 can benefit immensely from an introductory IT course. If you find the right course, you won’t have to pay either! Most courses cover the basics of using a computer and can bring you up to speed with most technological expectations in the modern workforce.
Free Wellbeing Course from Yale University
Entering retirement can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health. One great way to prepare yourself for this transition could be this wellbeing course from the prestigious Yale University.
Classes and materials are accessed online and are free for anyone who enrols.
Where to Find Free Courses
A Google search has got you this far, but is there anything more targeted you could be doing? Finding options that are both local and free can be trickier than many expect. We outline a few suggestions below.
Your Local Library
A trained librarian can be an endless fountain of knowledge. This includes information about free courses in your area. If you live near a library, don’t let such a valuable resource go to waste.
The library noticeboard – while probably less used than it once was – can still be a good place to check for nearby classes. The same goes for postings in your local paper.
Your Local Universities
If you live in a university town or city, it may be worth getting in touch with them to see what evening classes they have available. In some cases, free options are available to the over 60s.
Some courses also offer free services like workshops that allow their students to test their skills on volunteers. If there’s a hobby or skill class that fits your needs, why not offer your time?
edX offers over 2000 free online courses from 140 leading institutions worldwide, such as Harvard and MIT.
Taught by leading experts and tenured professors, the educational content is second to none and covers an array of subjects, ranging from computer science, to engineering and literature.
The website SkillShare can be accessed for free during their trial period. This can be a fantastic option for older learners who would rather pick up new skills at home. The skillshare platform is full of creators offering their knowledge through tailored, interactive classes that can introduce you to a new skill in record time.
If you’re smart, you’ll use the free trial for an introduction to a topic before moving on to other free alternatives.
This non-profit organisation is dedicated to offering free education to anyone who needs it. There are options available for a broad variety of subjects, but the academy is particularly good for those interested in STEM topics like maths or science.
Another great resource for finding free online courses is Udemy. Use their search function to see options that are currently available. Classes for hobbies like painting or photography can be found on this platform.
Keep in mind that Udemy also offers premium classes for those willing to pay. Use the link above to filter for free options.
A Helpful Link
Still searching? You might find that the link below provides some inspiration for further education and training.
- Findcourses.co.uk can help you search for in-person and online courses.
Free Courses for Over 60s – Final Thoughts
It’s never too late to broaden your horizons! Remember to be as clear as possible about the type of course you’re looking for. This will make it much easier to choose an option that’s a good fit.
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