Getting started

Key Things to Consider

Read on for some of the things you may need to consider when getting started on your higher education journey.

Can I afford higher education?

Of course one of the key questions adults ask when they are thinking about studying is, ‘How much will it cost?’ The Money matters section will tell you more, but remember to weigh up not just the costs, but also the many benefits of higher education level study.

Although there are tuition fees for the majority of courses, you don't have to pay up front. You can normally take out a loan and pay this back once you are in a job and earning a certain income. And the repayments are manageable. Degrees for some NHS related careers also offer a bursary. 

Entry to higher education - experience and a range of qualifications can count

For entry to most higher education level courses you need to demonstrate that you are able to cope with study at Level 4 and above, so most courses expect you to have Level 3 qualifications. There are many higher education courses that will accept a range of Level 3 qualifications- including BTEC National and OCR Cambridge Technical qualifications, as well as AS and A levels.

In some cases you can apply to a higher education programme even if you do not have Level 3 qualifications because of your relevant skills and experience.

If you are interested in studying through the The Open University, for most courses you don't need any previous qualifications for entry.

Qualifications from outside the UK

If you have qualifications awarded in another country, you'll need to find out whether they are recognised in the UK. See the Ecctis website to compare your overseas qualification with those offered in this country.

Find a type of course to suit you

When people consider higher education, most think of Honours Degree courses. In fact, a range of higher education level courses is available. These include:

  • Foundation Degrees and HNC/Ds - these work-related courses can be taken full or part time
  • Professional development courses (your employer might support you with one of these)
  • Short courses that will help you build up credits towards a full qualification
  • Honours Degrees offered through full- or part-time study or distance learning
  • Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

Higher education courses are not just offered at universities. You can also gain higher education qualifications through further education colleges, distance learning providers (such as The Open University), independent training providers, professional bodies etc.

Find out more in the section What, where and how to study.

Not yet ready for higher education level study?

If you're not ready for higher education level study, there are programmes to prepare you for studying at this level. Informal leisure courses can help you get back into learning and there are also courses to help you brush up on your skills e.g. IT, English and maths.

If you would like to get an understanding of the type and level of skills needed for higher-level study or would like to start developing your skills, then click on Improve your skills.

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