If you decided to remain in education beyond 16 it may be because you are hoping to go on to higher education. This may be because the career you are hoping to enter requires you to go to university.  It could be because you would like the opportunity to study a subject further or in more detail.  It might be that you are not sure what you want to do and feel that going to higher education will allow the chance to develop your skills and confidence whilst keeping your options open.

Although most people think of universities as higher education, courses are offered at other institutions such as higher education colleges, specialist colleges e.g. art or agriculture.  Some colleges of further education now offer degree courses working in conjunction with local universities.

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are work-related, or vocational, higher education qualifications. They are Level 4 and Level 5 qualifications respectively.

What HNCs and HNDs are

HNCs and HNDs focus on ‘learning by doing’ and give skills that you can use in a particular job. They are highly valued by employers and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.

Both qualifications are provided by further and higher education colleges. HNCs take about one year to complete full-time and two years part-time. HNDs take two years full-time and can also be taken part-time, which takes longer.

A full time degree will take at least 3 years, most are for 3 to 4 years but some e.g. medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and architecture can be 5 / 6 years.  It is possible to do a part time degree but this will take longer than 3 / 4 years.

Another possibility could be an Open University degree, where you study at home in your own time using distance learning packages. For more information on higher education options please see the UCAS website.