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FAQs Learners

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q What does HE stand for, and what does it mean?

A HE stands for Higher Education. It means courses at a higher level than A-levels and NVQ level 3. You can do an HE course at a university, an HE college and at many further education (FE) colleges.

Q Why should I bother with HE?

A Here are five great reasons!

  • Graduates are 50 percent less likely to be unemployed than non-graduates.
  • Graduates earn, on average, significantly more than non-graduates. Young graduates aged 21-30, for example, can expect to earn more each year than non-graduates in the same age bracket.
  • Whatever your dream job, your chances will be improved if you have a degree or diploma from a university or college.
  • If you want to work in some professions (such as teaching, nursing, law or medicine) you will have to have a relevant degree.
  • Your confidence and independence will grow, and you will enjoy a great social life!

Q How is university or college different to school?

A On an HE course you are responsible for your own learning. You are treated as an adult - and expected to behave like one. But support and guidance is available from your tutors and advisers in the student union when you want it. At the end of the day, like most things, you will have to work hard if you want to make a success of it - no pain no gain!

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Q None of my mates are thinking of HE. What if I don't make any new friends?

A In the first few weeks alone you'll be able to go to freshers' week parties and you can join a wide variety of clubs. You'll meet lots of new people and soon make friends. In fact, you'll be having such a great time your mates from home will be jealous. And remember most of the other students will be in the same boat!

Q Should I think about HE if I'm under 16?

A Yes, you need to be thinking about HE now. Keep HE in mind because doing a HE course will give you lots of choices in life. Whatever career you're thinking of, and even if you've not decided yet, it's important to choose your subjects very carefully as you may not get entry to a course without relevant Level 2 study (GCSEs). For some HE courses you will be expected to have passes in particular pre-16 qualifications (for example, Maths and English GCSE).

Q Is HE just for rich people?

A Definitely not. More than one million 18-21 year-olds are currently doing an HE course. Universities or colleges are full of students from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and ethnic origins.

Q How long does an HE course take?

A Between two and four years, depending on the qualification. Or longer as a part-time student. This might seem like a long time right now. But it will fly by and before you know it, you'll be graduating and going out into a new career and a whole new world of prospects.

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Q What kinds of HE courses are available?

A There's a vast choice.  There are 37,000 courses to choose - from medicine to music, law to literature located at around 370 universities or colleges. Out there somewhere will be just the course to suit you! In some popular subjects, such as science, engineering, business studies or computing, there are literally hundreds of variations of courses on offer.

Q Do I have to leave home to study on an HE course?

A No. You can choose to study at a local HE college or university. This might be a sensible decision to reduce your overall student debt. However you may already have decided to study away from home and benefit from the experience of living away and meeting new people.

Q What kind of qualifications can I get?

A As an HE student you'll probably be working towards one of these qualifications:

  • An honours degree: the most common of these is Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) and Bachelor of Science (BSc Hons). These are usually full-time three-year courses but can also be taken as longer part-time courses and may be available through distance learning.
  • A foundation degree: is a relatively new HE qualification. Both full- and part-time courses are offered in a variety of work-related subjects and offer progression to a full honours degree.
  • A Higher National Diploma (HND) or Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE): these take two years full-time, and there is the option of turning them into an honours degree by studying for a further year.
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Q I was thinking about working for a while to save some money to help with uni costs. Will I still be able to go?

A Yes. A lot of people take a year out (gap year). There are different reasons for this. Taking a year out can be a great way of earning and saving to cover some of the costs of study or your living expenses. It is also an ideal way of getting more experience and improving your life skills into the bargain as well as widening your horizons and building up valuable life experience. Universities and colleges appreciate the fact you have taken a year out - it shows them you will have increased in maturity and most likely focussed your ambitions on success and the future.

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