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Post-16 Students

What type of student are you?

What does it mean?

Definition of FE

FE stands for Further Education; this is what you study after year 11 and includes apprenticeships, traineeships, college, and sixth form.

Definition of HE

HE stands for Higher Education; this is optional after you turn 18 and complete your FE studies. It includes university and apprenticeships.

Definition of Sandwich Course

This is a four-year degree course where you spend one year on a work experience placement between your second and final year of studying.

Definition of Foundation Year

You may be asked to complete a Foundation Degree/Year if you didn’t study an appropriate A Level or achieve the desired grade. It’s a great way to be able to still do the degree you’ve always wanted and enhance your knowledge!

Definition of Undergraduate

You are an undergraduate if you are studying your first degree (which usually takes 3-4 years).

Definition of Graduate

Someone who has successfully completed their degree.

Definition of Prospectus

Printed or online brochures produced by a university or college to advertise themselves and their courses to encourage students to apply

Definition of Fresher

This is slang for a person in their first year of studies.

Definition of HND and HNC

A HNC (higher national certificate) is a one year course, equivalent to the first year of university. An HND (higher national diploma) is a two year course, equivalent to the first two years of university. This type of course can be studied at both college and university.

Definition of Clearing

If you didn’t get a place on a course – whether you didn’t receive offers, declined your offers, or didn’t get the grades you needed – Clearing allows you to apply for courses that still have vacancies. Clearing normally opens in July.

Your questions answered

Typically, in year 12 and year 13, you will be studying for your Level 3 qualification either through BTECs, A levels, or an apprenticeship; these are all equivalent qualifications. After completing these, you will be able to study higher education at university or college, or go on to a Degree Apprenticeship.

You will get help with all costs of university. You will not have to pay anything up-front and your tuition fees are paid by Student Finance England directly to your university. Everyone is entitled to a maintenance loan to help cover the costs of living (food, books, transport, rent etc.) and how much you get will depend on your household income. There are also bursaries, scholarships, and grants available that are different for each university. After graduation you will only repay a small amount of your student loan per month, only once you earn over the government threshold (currently £26,575 per year).

An apprenticeship gives you hands-on working experience and a salary whilst gaining a qualification. This gives you the opportunity to focus on a specialism and start your career straight after school. University allows you to study your favourite subject in depth and gives you more flexibility and time to work out what you’d like to do in the future.

Higher education is not compulsory, but it may be a good option depending on what career someone would like to undertake. There are some jobs that require a higher education qualification; this includes nursing, teaching, and law. This could be studied at university, or through a degree apprenticeship.

It is important to study a subject that you are both interested in and good at, as this qualification will help to steer your future career. Some careers do require certain degrees, which is why it is important to do your research! All courses will provide students with transferrable skills, so you will not be limited later in life, for example a person that studied English might go on to have a career in marketing or advertising.

The UCAS website is the centralised service where all students can apply for university. It offers a variety of support and information relating to various universities, different courses, assisting with your application, and comparing your top choices to find the perfect combination for you!

Your school or college will offer you help and support with applying to university.

Apprenticeship applications are submitted individually and directly to employers throughout the year when vacancies become available. You can search for an apprenticeship at

Research, research, research! University is great if you want to develop your learning of a specific subject that you are interested in. It is also an excellent opportunity for you to gain confidence and build your independence, in a supportive environment. You may want to attend a university open day, these events are a great opportunity to talk to staff and current students.

No, you do not have to move out of your home to go to university. A lot of people choose to live in halls in their first year of university, however this is not a requirement. Students often choose to live at home and commute to a local university – the choice is all yours!

UCAS Tariff points are used to convert grades and qualifications into a numerical value. The A levels and BTECs that a student achieves at school/college will have a UCAS Tariff value which you can check on the UCAS website.

The value will depend on the grades awarded, for example a C in A Levels is 32 points, and an A at A Level is 48 points.

UCAS Tariff Calculator 

Yes, each course will have a minimum amount of UCAS Tariff Point’s that a student will need to achieve. For examples, 96 points which is equal to CCC in A Levels.

Universities have different entry requirements for different courses. Subjects like nursing and teaching will have mandatory interviews before a place is offered, whereas art subjects may require a portfolio review. Other subjects such as English may not have any requirements at all, other than achieving minimum grades in Level 3 qualifications.

We encourage students to do their research on university websites and in prospectuses.

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Further useful resources

  • Choosing the Right Course

    Some students fear that they may make the wrong choice when it comes to picking what to study, we have broken this down into the 4 C’s of key things to consider.
  • Making Informed Decisions Worksheet

    Using the A.S.P.I.R.E acronym, this worksheet will help to guide you through the decision making process.