Academic Pathways

Higher level apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships suit students who want to be employed while studying. They are open to anyone over the age of 16 and can take anything from one to four years to complete. With both higher and degree apprenticeship routes you can achieve a full degree qualification.

The course

Courses can vary widely – look at descriptions in prospectuses on websites, your child can then start to refine their choices.

Look at entry requirements – does your child's predicted grades meet the essential requirements (such as minimum UCAS points or grades in particular subjects).

Look at other possibilities available – opportunities to study abroad or strong connections with your future industry.

The location

Another way of narrowing down the options is to look at where your child wants to live.

  • How far from home?
  • Campus or city-based university?
  • Cost of travel?


A university or college’s reputation will change subject to subject.

The goal is to find a university or college that offers a course they enjoy, with teaching staff who inspire.

University rankings list –

Student rankings –


While your child is studying it is a good idea for them to start building up their work experience to help distinguish themselves from other graduates. Does the university have good industry links that are incorporated into the course? Look at the careers department and see what guidance is provided – do they help secure internships?

Finding their passion

With thousands of higher education courses on offer there really is something for everyone. Your child will have the opportunity to study a subject they love – taught by experts – with fantastic results.

Opportunities on your doorstep

The prospect of your child moving far away from the familiarity and comfort of home to study can be a daunting prospect for many. Moving away from home isn’t the ideal for everyone and there are many benefits of studying locally.

Reducing the financial burden

For some young people and their parents, the cost of university is a worry. Some students save money by going to university closer to home.

Students living at home have a reduced amount of student loan available to them to help with the costs of studying. However the amount repaid may not change, as this is based on a graduates earnings.

Rise of the commuter student

Some universities and colleges now structure their timetable into two or three full days, making it easier for students to commute. These changes make it more convenient for students who have family commitments or part-time work and can also make managing study time easier.

Establish local career links

Studying close to home can give students the opportunity to establish links with local businesses. This gives your child a great foundation for future career opportunities.

Many universities and colleges have links with the local business community who want to recruit graduates with knowledge of the local area. These can be formal working arrangements – some paid and some voluntary – that can open doors to full-time employment.

Open Days

Open Days are a really useful way to experience universities and colleges first-hand. Expect to get more details on courses, facilities and the university or college as a whole.

Events will be full of current students and staff who are there to answer any questions and help you and your child get a feel for the place. Use the time to explore the surrounding area – is this somewhere you could see them living? Would your child be happy here?

Lots of talks will be going on throughout the day, like presentations on courses and subject areas. Your child can find out more about studying their chosen subject, or be inspired by something new! Student housing and student finance talks mean you can start figuring out how it all works. Most open days will offer a full campus tour, guided by the students who know it best.

Open Days will often have a Student Information Fair where you can speak to the different support services such as Wellbeing, Admissions, Sports, Students’ Union and many more.

If you can’t make the Open Day date, many universities or colleges will offer a tour at a time to suit you. Many also have virtual tours to see what the campus and facilities are like.

With your child, use these points to make notes and compare university choices:

Checklist for choosing a university

  1. Course and subject choice
  2. Entry requirements
  3. Distance from home
  4. City or campus university
  5. Reputation/ranking
  6. Facilities (e.g. accommodation)
  7. Scholarships and bursaries

Ahead of the open day, write down questions you would like answered. Things like:

  1. What careers have recent graduates gone on to?
  2. How many students are on the course?
  3. How much time do students spend in lectures?
  4. Are there opportunities to study abroad?
  5. What sports and societies are on offer?
  6. What student support is available?

Students can research course choices and entry requirements through UCAS search