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Qualifications 18+

Here are some of the qualifications that you can study at post-18

Explanation of the types of qualification levels

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.

Each university or college has different requirements that their students need to meet before they can start a course. These can be particular exam grades or Tariff points, or be non-academic, like having a health check.

Research the A-Z of universities

The usual minimum entry requirements can be accessed through the UCAS post-18 site and by individual subject requirements.

Find out more about entry requirements

View the UCAS tariffs video

Understand student finance by clicking on this link

Foundation Courses

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.

Find out more about Foundation years 

Foundation Degrees

Foundation degrees 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

Find out more about Foundation degrees

Higher National Diplomas / Certificates (HND/HNC)

These 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.

Find out more about HND/HNC courses and qualifications

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.

Professional courses

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.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

The Access to Higher Education Diploma can help you to go to university if you don't have A-levels

The Access to Higher Education programme is specially designed to meet the needs of adult students (aged 19 and over) wishing to return to education so that they can progress into university. The dynamic courses aim to refresh and extend knowledge, skills and confidence. Full-time courses take one year; part-time one year evening Access programmes are available for Social Work and Nursing and many more.

You may be eligible for financial support towards such costs as travel, equipment, books and childcare. You may also qualify for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan to help pay your Access course tuition fees – if you then go on to complete a higher education course, you will not have to repay the outstanding loan.

Find out more about studying an Access course

NVQs - level 3 / 4

NVQs are based on national standards for various occupations and these standards say what a competent person in a job could be expected to do.

NVQs are available to adults and young people alike. You can take NVQs if:

  • you are employed
  • you are studying at FE college and have a part-time job
  • have access to a work placement

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 also take an NVQ qualification at level 2 or 3 as part of an apprenticeship.

Find out more about NVQ qualifications 

Find out more about higher apprenticeships


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