Here are some of the qualifications you may thinking about:
Degree courses - a huge range of subjects can be studied to degree level. First degrees usually last three or four years if you are studying full-time, longer if you study part-time or by distance learning.
The usual minimum entry requirements are 5 GCSEs grade A - C, plus 2 A levels, IB, a National qualification at level 3 or Advanced Diploma. These are the minimum requirements and for many courses the entry requirements will be higher.
Foundation degrees - these are vocational courses that have been developed by local colleges, universities and industry to reflect the skill needs in their area. Courses may be full or part-time, lasting 2 to 3 years. Upgrading to an honours degree is possible with extra study.
There are no nationally set entry requirements for Foundation degrees. It is up to individual institutions to decide who to admit. Students may have a range of qualifications - A levels, National qualifications, Advanced Diploma or NVQ Level 3.
Higher National Diplomas / Certificates (HND/C) - are vocational courses that usually last two years if studied full-time (three years if sandwich), longer part-time.
HNDs are available in a wide range of subjects from agriculture to business studies, marketing to sports studies. HND students can sometimes transfer onto a degree course in a related subject or move on to a degree course after their HND.
The usual entry requirements for HNDs are one A level or equivalent passed plus another subject taken at the same level. For some of the more popular HNDs entry requirements may be more than the minimum.
Diploma in Higher Education (Dip HE) - the Dip HE is equivalent to the first two years of a degree course and has the same minimum entry requirements.
Many professions have their own professional body, which have qualifications their members can work for. Courses are usually offered part-time or via open or distance learning. You may be able to train in your chosen career while gaining relevant working experience.
There are many different types and levels of courses called Foundation:
- There are the one-year art foundation courses offered by local FE colleges. These are for students who have studied A levels and need to complete a foundation course before moving on to higher education.
- There are also one-year courses in higher education for people without the standard subjects for particular degrees for example engineering. Foundation years (or Year 0) aim to bring the necessary subjects up to the required standard for entry on to the degree programme.
NVQs - level 3 / 4
If you start in work or training you could be working towards an NVQ at level 3 and progressing on to a level 4. With an Advanced Apprenticeship you work towards an NVQ level 3 as well as other appropriate technical qualifications. You can find out more on Apprenticeships in the Work section.
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