There are a variety of HE courses on offer at Further Education (FE) colleges. There are HNC (Higher National Certificate) and HND (Higher National Diploma) courses that are equivalent to university-level qualifications and are specifically developed to prepare you for the world of work. These HE qualifications can help you to progress onto your chosen career and cover a range of specialisms, such as Engineering, Computing and Business Management. Some FE colleges also provide Higher/Degree apprenticeships as well as professional courses such as Policing and Emergency Services within their HE provision.
Anyone aged 16 or over who has completed A levels or equivalent and is interested in studying at a higher level might choose to study HE at a college. You could be straight out of sixth form or college after studying A levels or BTECs, or a mature student who would like to gain extra qualifications. These courses would suit students who prefer practical learning and being more ‘hands-on’.
The class sizes in a college are usually much smaller compared to those at a university, where you tend to have large cohorts of students. This means there may be more opportunity for one-to-one support from academics. If the particular career you are interested in is vocational, studying HE at a college may be right for you. You may also be keen to gain experience of the career you are passionate about and studying a HNC/HND allows you to do this by developing the practical skills required for that specific profession.
If you would prefer a more practical approach to learning, more support and links to employment/your future career, studying HE at a college might be perfect for you. There may also be lower course fees than universities and you can still apply for student finance to cover this. There also tends to be more flexibility with HNC/HND programmes, which can fit around employment or other commitments, as well as the opportunity to study part-time.
When studying HE at college you typically start on a HNC course, which can be completed over one year. This is equivalent to a Level 4 qualification.
Upon completion, you can go on to study a HND for a further year, which is equivalent to a Level 5. A HND qualification is equivalent to a foundation degree or the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.
The tutors and academics on your college course are likely to have links with their chosen industry and may have worked in the industry themselves in the past. Vocational courses are designed to prepare students for work in their chosen industry. For example, on a HND Business course you would be likely to have engagement with local businesses and employers. This would help to build up your portfolio and CV when applying for jobs.