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A Comprehensive Guide to Your Higher Education Options

Convocation ceremony

Higher education courses in the UK can be taken at colleges, universities, or Further Education colleges. Qualifications for higher education range from Postgraduate awards, accredited diplomas, Higher National Certificates, and master’s Degrees.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to your higher education options in the UK.

Higher Education That Suits You

Do you know that there are several higher education courses that you can study in flexible ways? Study types range from full-time work, part-time work, and work-study combinations to suit every lifestyle.

As more local further education colleges are offering newer study options, more institutions are providing distance learning options or a combination of face-to-face and online learning.

Whether you’re a fresh A-level grad, or a person returning to school after a long hiatus, several study paths are leading to higher education. There are different benefits and support mechanisms that can help you acquire the higher education you wish to seek, like:

Cambridge University

Qualifications You Need to Get Higher Education in the UK

Different institutions have their respective entry requirements for enrolment in higher education courses. While most prospectuses refer primarily to A level, some schools also accept vocational certifications like BTECs and NVQs, that may be comparable to A-levels.

Based on the course, UK based students can get admission in several high education qualifications with different qualifications like:

A person may also be able to enrol in higher education programs by completing an Access or Foundation course.

A person writing on paper with a pen

If You Have Higher Education Qualification

If you have an (HND) Higher National Diploma or a Higher National Certificate (HNC), you will be eligible to get admission in a first-degree course.

To be able to study for an HND or HNC, you’ll need to have prior qualifications. Typically, the HND courses need you to have taken at least one A-level subject.

If you’re going for a foundation degree, you’ll be able to get admission in a degree course when the third or final year starts. Entry requirements for a foundation degree depend on the college and the course. They would typically require A levels or vocational equivalents like BTEC National Diplomas.

If You Don’t Have any Higher Qualifications

In case you don’t have any formal qualifications but have relevant aptitudes and skills, you’ll be considered for admission through the process called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

Under special conditions, the APEL process helps a person get admission to different programs in colleges or universities based on specific cases.

If you don’t have the required qualifications but have relevant experience that the college or university may think is relevant to the study program, you may be given admission. However, this decision will be for the institution to make.

When you apply for a higher education course under APEL, you’ll have to establish proof of experience or sit for a task or module designed by the college or university.

If you’re planning to get admitted based on APEL, you should contact your institution of choice regarding the details for specific courses.

Books in a library

If You’ve Selected a Course

If you’ve selected the course you’d want to study as a full-time student, you can go on the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) website. This website will help you look for all the undergrad and post-grad courses along with Foundation degree programs. However, the UCAS website doesn’t have information about HND and HNC courses.

Colleges and universities use the UCAS Tariff to establish admission requirements. It’s a point-based system that helps institutions regulate the admissions process. The tariff gives a number value to different qualifications so that universities and colleges can compare the profiles of different candidates.

Universities and colleges also have all the relevant information related to different courses on their website, so you can check the site directly as well.

A group of students sitting a university garden

Are You an International Student?

If you’re planning to come to study in the UK from outside of the UK, you can get admission in a higher education course, only if you have the qualifications that may be comparable to A levels. These qualifications may include the Irish Leaving Certificate, European Baccalaureate (EB), International Baccalaureate (IB).

Check if you meet their required qualifications for admission online. EU and other international students can check those requirements here.

Access Courses

Access courses help people, who don’t have A level or HND and HNC courses, prepare for higher education. Most of the Access courses are accredited and designed by universities but are often offered in further education colleges. Some universities, like the Open University, also offer them.

The route from Access courses to Higher Education diplomas are often accredited by Accessing Validating Agencies offered by further education colleges and licensed by QAA.

A library in an old university

Foundation Years

Academic institutions provide Foundation year as a mode of preparation for some degree courses. They aren’t typically considered separate qualifications. Instead, they qualify you to get admitted to a degree program at a higher-level institution.

Not all degree courses have Foundation years. Therefore, you’ll have to check the higher education website to find out if they offer it or not. Going for a Foundation year is helpful if:

  • You’ve taken a long gap from education.
  • You don’t have the requirements to get admission to a degree program at a university
  • You’re an international student with insufficient language skills that don’t meet the degree demand.

Foundation Course

They’re somewhat similar to a Foundation year. However, they may not be offered by the same college or university as a diploma or a full degree. It may also not qualify you for admission to a particular course.

A library with lots of students studying for exams

Foundation Degree

Enrolling in a foundation degree is different from a foundation course or a foundation year. It’s considered an intermediate higher education qualification, often delivered by further education colleges. They mix work-related and academic learning, offering a route into a university of employment, helping people get better jobs for themselves.

Types of Higher Education Degree

Before you enrol yourself in a UK university, you should know the different types of higher education degrees. There are different degrees that higher education students can get. However, you’ll only be eligible for a higher education degree if you meet the prerequisites (as outlined in this blog post) to enrol in them.

Here are the three common types of higher education degrees:

Bachelor’s (BA Hons/ BSc)

The first degree that a person can ever receive is a bachelor’s degree. Students come directly after A levels to study at the undergraduate or bachelor’s level. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is of three years.

However, if your degree requires a placement year or you go on an exchange year, the degree may become 4 years. People enrolled in med school can expect to complete their undergraduate degrees in around 6 years.

Master’s (MA/ MSc)

You can only apply for a master’s degree if you have completed your bachelor’s degree in a related field and have gotten a grade of 2:2 or more. Master’s degrees are of two kinds, course-based or thesis-based.

Doctorate (Ph.D.)

A Ph.D. is the highest degree you can receive. A doctorate usually takes about three to four years to complete as a full-time student. A Ph.D. requires you to research and produce an original thesis in your field. Most doctorate students don’t complete their Ph.D. studies in one go. Some of them often take a gap year and return to studies.

While these three are the main degree levels, the titles may differ depending on the field of study you’ve chosen.

In the above abbreviations, Sc refers to science and A refers to arts.

Arts typically covers all the subjects related to humanities like literature, history, and sociology, and science covers subjects like psychology, kinesiology, etc.

Choosing an undergraduate degree will require students to choose a degree title that contains at least or at most three subjects that they’d like to study in-depth. Students can also choose a selection of different disciplines like media and psychology or history and Spanish.

One of the most popular subject combinations is English and History. Unlike different countries, studying in the UK requires you to specify which degree courses you’ll like to study instead of covering a range of general subjects.

A group of friends jumping with joy on their graduation

University Funding

Tuition fee at UK universities is considered one of the highest throughout the world, where fees are increased annually. The average current fee, as of 2021 is £9,250, which equals $11,556 for EU and UK students. The fee for international students is somewhere between £10,000 to £38,000, which equals $12493 and $47,475. The fees are dependent on the course and university.

Please note that EU and Scottish students who want to study in Scotland can study for free. Students who live in Northern Ireland can study in an institution in their country for a tuition fee of no more than £4,275, which equals $5,309.

For most EU and home students, funding can be received from Student Finance England. Every student is entitled to receive a student loan that covers the amount of tuition and miscellaneous fee. The loan for tuition and living costs are granted based on the household income of the students. This means that the amount of loan a student receives will be dependent on the household income of the student’s family.

As of 2021, local students in the UK can get a loan of up to £11,672 if they’re studying and living in London, and £8,944, if they’re studying and living outside of London. These rates change every year. Fortunately, they always increase and not decrease. Therefore, when you decide to pursue higher education in the UK, you must check out the government’s website to see if you can afford the universities or not. Every year, the government releases new funding costs. You can check more information about them here.

If you’re an international student, you will not be eligible for UK funding. If you need a student visa to study in the UK and you belong to a non-EU country, you’ll be expected to show at least £1,015, as the living cost, for every month you plan to stay in the UK.

Are you Looking to Pursue Higher Education in the UK?

Oxford Learning College is the place to start. We’re a great online learning source for A-Levels and online accredited diplomas from the comfort of your home. We offer interest-free installment plans for A-levels standard exams, fast-tracked A-level Courses, and retakes.

We also offer bundle courses to help you fulfil the degree program requirements. These bundles are carefully curated to add courses that you’ll need to enrol in top schools across the UK. Visit our website to learn more about the online courses and contact us for any information.