Why study?

Going to university or college is a big commitment, in both time and money, but by getting a degree you will be making a big investment in your future. It will increase your chances of getting a good job and improve your earning potential.

For many young people, it will be your first taste of independence and an exciting opportunity to try new activities and meet new friends.

There are a wide range of options available to you at post-16, including A-Levels, T Levels, Apprenticeships and BTEC. At post-18 you may wish to pursue a foundation and/or a bachelor’s degree or degree-level apprenticeship. Choosing the right pathway for you is what matters to us. Our Higher Education Champions are here to provide information and advice and we encourage you to explore different options.

Our partner institutions offer a wide range of courses that support your interests, whether this is in medicine, computer science, psychology, hair and beauty, business, fashion or the hundreds more courses available.

If you’re unsure about what pathway is right for you, get in touch with your local Higher Education Champion, visit a College or University Open Day and access a range of free resources that offer information and key dates concerning course applications and requirements.



Once you get to year 9 at your secondary education you will have the options to pick what you want to study in years 10 and 11. This includes:

  • GCSE’s: Your school should offer you a wide range of existing and new courses that you can study and sit exams in over the next 2 years.
  • BTEC: These qualifications offer you independent learning around work-based skills, such as food technology and sports training.
  • Vocational Qualifications: These can be studied alongside GCSE’s and provide work related experience.


A Levels

Study a subject you took at GCSE in greater depth or choose a new one like economics, law or psychology. You could take 3 broad subjects you are interested in to keep your career options open or choose ones you need for a specific career.

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Entry requirements: Course dependent, typically 5 GCSEs Grade 9-4 (usually including English and maths).
  • EPQ: The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a level 3 (A-level standard) qualification offered alongside your 3 A-levels. It involves choosing a topic, carrying out research, then creating either a 5,000 word report or a 'product' accompanied by a 1,000 word report. After that you must deliver a small 10-15 minute presentation to a group of non-specialists about your topic. The EPQ allows you to develop your personal interest in a topic you care about. The skills you'll develop as a result of doing the EPQ (e.g. project planning, decision making, record keeping, evaluation, presenting) are invaluable in most jobs and uni courses.

It is worth half an A-level. An A* in the EPQ is worth 70 UCAS points, an A 60, B 50, C 40, D 30 and an E 20.

T Levels

Designed in partnership with employers to give you the skills and knowledge to get on in the workplace. Combines classroom learning with industry placements to prepare you for skilled work or higher level study.

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Entry requirements: Course dependent.
  • Work experience: At least 45 days on industry placement.

Technical and Vocational Qualifications

Qualifications which teach you how to do tasks specifically related to the industry and role you want to be involved in. Level 2 Qualifications are usually equivalent to one GCSE, a one year L3 Certificate is usually equivalent to one A-level and a two year L3 Diploma is usually equivalent to 3 A-levels.

  • Duration: Course dependent, generally Level 2 (1 year) and Level 3 (1-2 years).
  • Entry requirements: Course dependent.
  • Work experience: Course dependent.


University/ Bachelor's Degree

University / Bachelor's Degree

An academic course that's usually studied at a higher education institution. Learn through lectures, seminars, group projects and independent study. There's funding available to support you and you can study full or part- time.

  • Location: At a university, college or online. You could go away to study, stay local or go abroad.
  • Duration: 3 to 4 years.
  • Entry requirements: Universities set their own entry requirements. You'll usually need A Levels or equivalent qualifications.

It is worth half an A-level. An A* in the EPQ is worth 70 UCAS points, an A 60, B 50, C 40, D 30 and an E 20.



Intermediate, advanced higher and degree apprenticeships combine practical on-the-job skills training with off-the-job learning. You'll get training that is relevant to your job and be paid a salary. Start at a level to suit you, with support if you have special needs or a disability.

  • Duration: Intermediate – Level 2 (12-18 months), Advanced - Level 3 (24 months approx.), Higher Level - Level 4 or 5 (Up to 5 years), Degree - Level 6 (3-6 years).
  • Location: Typically you’ll spend 80% of your time in the workplace and 20% off-the-job with some study in a college, training centre or Institute of Technology (IoT). However this can differ between apprenticeships.
  • Entry requirements: Will be dependent on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level.
Learn more

Degree Apprenticeship

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships are a new type of programme offered by some universities. Students can achieve a full bachelor's or master's degree as part of their apprenticeship.

These programmes are being developed by employers, universities, and professional bodies working in partnership.

Degree apprenticeships combine working with studying part-time at a university. Apprentices are employed throughout the programme, and spend part of their time at university and the rest with their employer. This can be on a day-to-day basis or in blocks of time, depending on the programme and requirements of the employer.

They can take between three to six years to complete, depending on the course level.


Discover our range of free student resources for information and advice on applications, course requirements and different pathways available to you.

Finding Your Way - Options Guide for Service Children 2022-23

Finding Your Way - Options Guide for Service Children 2022-23

Making post-16 and post-18 choices - A guide for service children and military families.

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Resource Guide

Resource Guide

Not sure what sort of resource you are looking for? Check out this resource guide first!

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General Interview Skills

General Interview Skills

This teaching/learning resource looks at interview skills.

  • 15 mins

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