Education is great, especially when its helps you land a job that's challenging and rewarding. Times are changing rapidly, and how people learn needs some work, that’s why we started Function Camp.
The last 20 years have brought about some quite dramatic changes to higher education.
Companies began to value people with a degree far higher than before, listing a higher education qualification as an ‘essential’ requirement in job descriptions. There was a big push to send more people to university and as a result, vocational training suffered and began to be perceived by many as a less worthwhile option.
Next, university became more and more expensive. Between 1999 and now, tuition fees have increased from £0 to £9,250 per year. That’s £27,000 for a 3 year degree! Currently only 4 out of 115 universities charge less than £9,000 a year for tuition.
University is a place to gain qualifications but students go for more than just their education: socialising, learning to be independent, doing something fun while delaying the real world. But for the most part, young people are encouraged to go to university to increase their job opportunities in the long term.
Contrary to the changes that were happening to higher education, universities (usually large institutions established for hundreds of years), have barely adapted. Universities aren’t all that focused on making sure their students get jobs or leave feeling “employable”. Because there’s no competition, and if they continue to receive increasingly high fees, they have no real reason to change and are not held accountable.
As the software age has set in, new industries have developed, requiring people who can code. There simply isn't enough expertise to meet the demand, which is pushing programmer salaries up higher and higher.
Learning to code is challenging, but as we have seen, it’s possible to teach smart people to do it in under 6 months. There’s an academic side to coding, but there’s also a creative and practical side too.
Unlike many university degrees today, the return on investment is clear. For about the cost of going to university for one year, you can learn to code and there’s a good chance you’ll land an interesting, well-paid job.
We think that a lot of the bootcamp courses that exist are great, but here at Function Camp we’ve found a way to make it better.
So, you’re an 18 year old and thinking about going to university? Most of your friends are going, but you’re interested in computers, maybe you did a bit of coding at school? A bootcamp could be for you, but how will you pay for it?
Bootcamps are often paid for upfront. A decent course costs £8k - that’s a lot of money to find down the back of the sofa for many families.
You could take out a loan, but the interest rates are nowhere as favourable as a student loan, and you have to pay it back no matter what.
Bootcamps tend to be aimed at people that have already been to university and have perhaps been working a couple of years but are looking for a change. They’re not necessarily trying to compete with universities by training people at 18. Nor are they trying to help the 1000’s of students that leave university but struggle to find a good job.
Coding bootcamps aren’t impacting social mobility in the way they could be.
In general we think the quality of the top coding bootcamps is pretty good. But there are a few places we think they could improve.
First, almost all coding bootcamps use their own course material. This is expensive and implies they think they can produce better content than ALL existing content available online. Big bootcamps can afford to spend the time and money building good and branded courses, but smaller bootcamps may be sacrificing the quality of their education this way.
Second, while being quite applied, their courses aren’t always taught by professionals that use the technology everyday. If you want to become a great coder there is a big difference between theory and practice.
Finally, many bootcamps require you to attend in person. This can be impractical for some people adds to the cost of the course - which ultimately gets passed on to you.
We’re one of the first to publicly offer a coding bootcamp combined with a classic ‘student loan’ style loan. You pay nothing upfront, then once you start earning, you begin repaying the loan each month at a rate of 10% of what you earn. The interest is linked to inflation rather than the ~6.1% university students currently pay.
We don’t get paid unless you get paid. If the course doesn’t work out, you’ve spent nothing. This gives us an extra incentive to help you as much as we can.
This method means that people from a wider range of backgrounds can begin a career in coding, regardless of how much money they’ve saved up and without taking out a risky loan.
Our course has no formal prerequisite requirements. You don’t need a degree to join the course, we’re just looking for smart, motivated people that we believe in.
Coding is for all, that’s why we welcome applications from people at all stages and walks of life.
ZDEV is our sister company and the Function Camp course was built for their apprentice programme. So far 4 people have been successfully trained and are now working as programmers.
When the course was built, we only cared about one thing: “How can we teach people to code well as quickly as possible?”
When teaching yourself to code, you’re hit by an overwhelming amount of material. What’s difficult for people is knowing what to learn. Our course takes care of this by stringing together important concepts in the best order, teaching you exactly what you need to know, when you need to know it.
We found top class materials online for many of the disciplines in our curriculum, so we decided not to reinvent the wheel and direct students to those.
When the best couldn’t be found online, we it built ourselves. Thus making a comprehensive course that actually works.
At Function Camp all of our coaches are professional programmers who get paid to write code every day. Their insight ensures the course is always practical and relevant. And since our coaches completed the original course at ZDEV, they can offer unrivalled support and experience.