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Your options

Higher Education doesn’t always mean going to university. There are a range of options to suit your skills, abilities and circumstances.

Higher Education also doesn’t always mean moving away to study – it can involve studying at a college with higher level courses, getting a higher or degree apprenticeship with an employer, or a daily commute to a local university. There are a range of options to suit your skills, abilities and circumstances.

What are my options?

Higher Education doesn’t always mean going away to study – it can involve studying at a college with higher level courses, or a daily commute to a local university. There are a range of options to suit your skills, abilities and circumstances.

What is Higher Education?

GCSEs are level 2 qualifications, A-levels and BTECs (Further Education) are level 3, and education at levels 4 and above is Higher Education. These can include Higher Education certificates (these are level 4, e.g. HNCs), Higher Education diplomas (at level 5, e.g. HNDs) and degrees (at level 6, e.g. BSc or BA). Higher Education doesn’t always mean going to university – you can also study at a college or through an apprenticeship.

Further Education

Further Education is available to anyone over the age of 16.

Once you’ve left secondary school you can study at college or sixth form for further qualifications or skills training. Further Education includes basic skills training, A-levels, BTECs, NVQs, apprenticeships and/or foundation degrees.

Studying post-16 can help you acquire qualifications to attend university, or prepare you for a career.


An apprenticeship is a job with off-the-job training.

For most apprenticeships, you apply through an employer, and can gain recognised qualifications alongside working and earning a wage. Learning is spread across training at work and attending a college or training centre.

Students choose apprenticeships to gain experience in a particular field or industry, get an insight into the workplace and get a head-start in their career. A number of higher and degree level apprenticeships – which means the learning is at the same level as Higher Education – are also available for post-18 students.

Higher Level and Degree Apprenticeships

Higher Level and Degree Apprenticeships are an alternative Higher Education route, combining employment and off-the-job training.

Having grown in popularity recently, more and more professions are becoming accessible via a Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship.

The basics and how to find out more….

Foundation degrees
A foundation degree can combine degree level study with work-based learning. It is the equivalent of two thirds of a full honours degree, which can allow you study for an undergraduate degree.
Some of our partners also offer combined foundation degrees which naturally progress to undergraduate degrees.

Undergraduate degree courses

Undergraduate courses allow you to study a particular subject from hundreds of options.

At the end of the course, you will receive a degree or diploma (also known as a bachelor’s degree) to say that you have passed the course.

Degrees are highly rated amongst employers and can also open up the opportunity to further study at postgraduate level, where you can research a subject further.

Students often choose to study at university as an opportunity to live away from home, meet new people, broaden their horizon and explore their career options.

Note: You will need to have studied at Further Education level to be eligible for university-level study.

Short courses

If you want to gain qualifications and skills in a limited period of time, short courses might be the way to go. Weeks of intensive learning can teach and prepare you for work or further study.

Full time/part time/distance learning

Higher Education providers can work around your circumstances. Full time learning is common for most students between leaving school and finishing university.

Part time learning might benefit an adult learner returning to education, a student who works or a parent who needs to organise childcare.

Distance learning courses are available as a way of learning remotely. If you cannot attend college or university for whatever reason, you may be able to learn from home. Some students may choose this option if they are a parent, a carer, or have mobility/travel issues.

Speak to the course provider about your options.


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