Getting into Higher Education



Have you ever wanted a job that requires some form of Higher Education qualification and/or a degree? A lot of my customers find gaining Higher Education qualifications daunting, especially when they consider taking three or four years out of their life to study full-time at university. Surprisingly though, there are four options available when looking to gain access to Higher Education. Let’s have a look at them now:

Foundation Degree

Foundation Degrees focus on a particular profession. They are a fabulous idea if you want to work whilst also studying for your degree. Even if you’re not in work, the skills you learn during the two years you are studying will help to advance your career. They usually take two years to complete if attending full-time, part-time will obviously take longer. You will normally have the option of studying for a third year and obtaining a full Honours Degree if you wish.

Honours Degree

An Honours Degree is obtained by attending university on a full time basis over three or four years, and is the route the majority of students take. It usually focuses on a particular subject. Sometimes there will be a year of work experience included in the course, so that you can gain experience in the relevant industry.

Higher National Certificate (HNC) / Higher National Diploma (HND)

HNC & HND qualifications are usually gained by attending a local college on a full or part-time basis. They’re a great way of earning a qualification in a vocational subject. A HNC will take one year to complete full-time, or two years part-time. It is the equivalent of studying for the first year at university. A HND takes two years to complete full-time, or three to four years part-time. This is equivalent to two years at university.

If you would like to continue studying to earn a full degree, you will usually be allowed into the second year of a degree if you have an HNC, and the second or third year if you have a HND.

Level 6 Diploma

A Level 6 Diploma is a qualification that is equivalent to a degree, but instead of going to either a college or a university to study, you do this type of qualification at work. An assessor will come to your work place to conduct tutorials and also to complete observations. This type of qualification can take anywhere from one to three years to complete, depending on your previous qualifications.

If you would like any further advice, please contact us on 0800 100 900.

– Marie, Careers Adviser


Degree Apprenticeships

Are you put off studying at university because of the tuition fees?

Do you learn better when you can apply your learning to the workplace?

Would you like to earn a salary whilst studying?

Would you like to work towards a degree level qualification?

Yes? The new Degree Apprenticeship route may be for you!

A Degree Apprenticeship is the new route introduced by the government to combine the vocational elements of an apprenticeship with university study.

Introducing our case study: Sam*

Sam is 18 years old. She has recently gained GCSEs and a BTEC Extended Diploma in IT (Computer Programming and Software Development). She would like to study at degree level but recognises that her strengths lie in learning on-the-job. She also has concerns about funding university study as she has a mortgage and bills to pay for so would prefer to earn a salary. She would like to find out more about the degree apprenticeship route.

Sam: Would I be eligible to study a degree apprenticeship?

Yes. Degree Apprenticeships are targeted at 18-19 year olds who have recently left school. However, they are also available to 16 – 18 year olds, mature students and people, with trade experience, who have already completed a lower level apprenticeship.

Sam: What could I study?

With your current qualifications in IT you may be interested in pursuing the digital industries degree apprenticeship route.

There are 13 degree apprenticeship routes available:

  • Chartered Surveying
  • Electronic Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Aerospace Software Development
  • Defence Systems Engineering
  • Laboratory Science
  • Nuclear
  • Power Systems
  • Public Relations
  • Digital Industries
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Banking Relationship Manager
  • Construction

(Information taken from:

Sam: Where could I study?

Around forty universities across the UK are committed to delivering degree apprenticeships and this is due to increase. Some universities delivering digital industry training include:

  • Aston University
  • Exeter University
  • University of Greenwich
  • University College London (UCL)
  • Loughborough University
  • Manchester Metropolitan University

(Information taken from:

Sam: Will it cost me anything?

No, you won’t pay tuition fees or training costs. You will, however, need to pay for your living costs as you will not receive a student loan but you will receive an apprentice wage to help cover your living costs.

Sam: How can I apply?

You can search and apply for degree apprenticeships directly through the employer. These vacancies are likely to be advertised on their website. You can also use the Find an apprenticeship service here:

Get My First Job website provides further information about degree apprenticeships and has a search by location facility. See website here:

Since you may be interested in the Digital Industries you can apply for a degree apprenticeship to work towards a BSc (Hons) in Digital & Technology Solutions BSc (Hons) degree through the Tech Partnership. This programme is designed by employers from the tech sector and develops candidate’s skills and knowledge to work in a variety of tech roles including:

  • Data Analyst
  • Software Engineer
  • Network Engineer
  • Business Analyst

For more information you can visit the Tech Partnership website here:

If you would like further information about degree apprenticeships and to discuss your options, call the National Careers Service today on 0800 100 900.