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Which HE route?

Level 3 – A Levels/BTECS


Higher or degree apprenticeship is focused on a particular job or profession. ‘Learn while you earn’: study for a HE qualification alongside paid work.

Qualification and length will vary dependent on apprenticeship.

For example: Business Administration Apprentice, Level 4 NVQ Diploma in Business and Administration, 18 months.

Digital and Technology Apprentice, Level 6 degree in BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions, 4 years.


Higher national certificate (HNC): one year to complete full time, often with option to study part time. Designed to teach practical skills for a specific career.

Higher national diploma (HND): similar to HNC but takes two years to complete.

Foundation degree: Two years full time, longer if part time. Combines academic study and workplace learning. Designed with employers. Can often be ‘topped up’ to a bachelor’s degree.


Bachelor’s degree: academic study focused on independent study and research. Typically studied full time for three years. Can include an additional study abroad year or placement year (a year working) depending on the course and provider.  Bachelor’s degrees offered by specialist institutions often focus on a more practical and practice-based approach.

Higher Education: courses

There are over 50,000 undergraduate courses at over 400 providers in the UK. Narrowing it down to the best course for you can be challenging, so it is important that you have all the support and guidance you need to help you make your choice.

Think about what you enjoy, both academic and extracurricular (activities outside of class). Think about whether these interests could lead to a Higher Education course or a particular career. Below are some key things to consider when helping you choose a course.

Choosing a course: things to consider

  • Do you have a particular career in mind?
  • Are you taking the correct subjects and qualifications at school/college to get on to the course?
  • Do you meet the GCSE entry requirements for the course?
  • Do you need to have completed any work experience to apply for the course?
  • Do you learn best through practical work or independent study?
  • Do you want to know more about a particular subject? Is it the whole subject or something specific about it?
  • Do you want to study abroad/complete a placement year as part of your course?
  • Are you aware of the different deadlines and application requirements for each course? E.g. for some specialist institutions.

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