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University and Higher Education

Institutions of higher education (IHE) include universities and colleges of higher education. Many further education colleges also offer higher education (HE) course that are accredited by an IHE.

Higher education (HE) is education for people aged 18 or over, who have successfully completed a level 3 qualification, such as A levels or level 3 BTECs. Higher education courses are offered by universities as well as many other institutions and lead to qualifications such as:

  • a degree (BSc, BA, BEng)
  • a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • a Foundation Degree (FdA or FdSc)

Think carefully about whether university is for you - way up the pros and cons. Many jobs now want you to have a degree but there are other ways of getting an equivalent qualification, such as via an apprenticeship or degree apprenticeship. find out if the careers you're interested in need a degree before you start. You will need to take out a loan to pay for your course and you will only be able to work part-time and in the holidays, so money may be tight. You will make new friends and experience new things.

Most degree courses last three or four years but there are a few 'fast track' cvourses that last two years. Foundation degrees and HNDs and DipHEs last two years and can often be extended to degree level.

Degrees can also be studied part-time and you don't have to go straight from sixth form or college. If you don't get the qualifgications needed to start your course, there are other courses you can do later in life to gain entry.

Changes to the cost of higher education (HE) may make you reconsider going to university.

The latest student destinations show that student employment rates three years after graduation remain relatively high and pay rates are also holding up.

Some students go to university to train for the job they want to do, for example nurses, teachers, doctors and engineers. Other students have a subject that they wish to study at a higher level. If you aren’t sure what to do at university, try an online questionnaire such as UK Course Finder.

Your school or college may have access to other online sites and questionnaires such as Higher Ideas or Pathfinder+HE.

What do graduates do?

Thinking about opportunities for graduates may help you to plan. Try these sites, which have careers information and advice especially for new graduates