If you know you want to do a degree in the future but would like (or need to) prepare for study at a higher education level first, there are specific courses available.
This section looks at courses that are specifically designed to help people get ready for study at a higher education level, notably:
- Access to Higher Education Diplomas
- Access modules available from The Open University
- foundation years (an extra year before a degree)
These programmes are an excellent way into higher-level study for adults, particularly those who have been out of learning for some time.
Find out the entry requirements for any of these courses that interest you. For some you may not require formal academic qualifications, but you still need to demonstrate you have the potential to cope with the level of work. Please note that a level 2 English and maths qualification may be required before entry onto any of the above courses or you will need to study for one or both of these at the same time. Many university level courses require a certain level of numeracy and literacy and you need to check the the specific entry requirements for the type of courses you are hoping to apply for.
Bear in mind that it’s sometimes possible for adults with suitable learning from experience or previous qualifications to gain direct entry to a higher education level course (without needing to do a preparatory programme) even if they don’t have the usual entry requirements. If this could apply to you, it’s worth discussing your background with admissions tutors and finding out about the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL). Some higher education courses, such as Foundation Degrees, have more flexible entry requirements than Honours Degree programmes.
Before you start exploring your options, complete the Lifepilot Higher Skills Map tool to see how your existing skills and experience will be valued in higher education. Use the information to find a course to suit you and to promote yourself on applications.
Other ways to get ready for study at higher education level:
If you aren't quite ready to commit to one of the above options you may want to consider one of the below:
- Study Skills and Introductory Courses. If you are in the early stages of considering degree level studies you can enrol onto a short course in a subject you are interested in as well as courses designed to build up your study skills.
- A Levels and GCSEs are sometimes offered by local colleges and it may be possible to study these part time as an adult within the classroom or online, note that you would usually need to pay for your course. You can also study A levels as an adult via distance learning using an online provider but you will need to check out the costs involved and the credentials of the learning provider. One example is the Oxford Learning College. Taking a GCSE or A level can be a good way to see if you enjoy academic studies and it could also go towards entry requirements you may need in the future.
- Although vocational BTEC and T level qualifications are predominantly taken by younger students it may be possible to study these courses as an adult depending on the provider. You can enquire at your local college to see if this is possible. T levels are currently available for adults aged 19-25 if they have an Education Health and Care Plan in place.