Your Guide to University
Level Qualifications

Making sure you’re on the right course is important to us as it can influence your next step and your longer term future.

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Foundation Degrees

Foundation Degrees combine academic study with workplace/work-related learning. They are broadly equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelor’s Degree. They are designed with a particular area of work in mind, with the help of organisations from that sector, so you’re getting the skills that employers look for.

Typically, you’ll get the chance to learn in the workplace as well as in the classroom. Once you’ve achieved a Foundation Degree, you can use your qualification and work experience to find employment, or you can ‘top up’ your qualification to a full Bachelor’s Degree. This usually involves an extra year or two of study.

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Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)

HNCs and HNDs are work-related courses and are highly valued by employers both in the UK and overseas. While Bachelor’s Degrees tend to focus on gaining knowledge, HNCs and HNDs are designed to give you the skills to put that knowledge to effective use in a particular vocation.

Higher National qualifications don’t just qualify you for work. Some HNCs allow direct entry into the second year of a degree programme and many HNDs allow direct entry to the third year of an Honours Degree. HNCs or HNDs can also give you access to a number of professional bodies. So whether you want to go straight into a job, or continue your studies, getting a Higher National can be a great place to start.

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Degree ‘Top-ups’

A Top-up degree is the equivalent to the final year of undergraduate study, giving you a Bachelor’s level qualification. As the name suggests, these courses enable you to ‘top-up’ an existing qualification, whether that’s a Foundation degree or another relevant qualification, like an HND.

Every course has its own entry requirements, so check the course you’re interested in to find out exactly what you’ll need to be able to apply, in addition make sure you check your eligibility for continued student finance.

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Professional Qualifications

Professional qualifications focus on improving your ability to succeed in a particular occupation, which is ideal if you have a clear career objective and want to gain valuable on-the-job experience. Many careers demand that you possess a professional qualification, but in other cases, professional qualifications are not essential, but they allow you to achieve greater competence in your field and improve your prospects for progression.