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Pre-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 or sixth form.

Definition of HE

HE stands for Higher Education; this is optional after you turn 18 and complete your FE studies. It includes some courses studied in college, university, and apprenticeships.

Definition of Undergraduate

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

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 T Levels

T Levels are new courses, which will follow GCSEs and will be equivalent to 3 A levels. T Levels will offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience.

Definition of Course

This is what you will study at university or college. There are many different courses across different levels and subjects – including joint honours, where you combine two subjects.

Definition of Campus

A university or college campus has all the facilities (teaching rooms, canteen, students’ union, library, and accommodation) in one area.

Definition of Students' Union

An organisation found in all universities and colleges that is run by students and is dedicated to the representation and support of students. In addition they actively promote social opportunities and ensure student voice is heard.

Definition of Degree

A degree is awarded when studies are completed at university or college. A degree is a Level 6 qualification.

Definition of Apprenticeship

Practical training in a paid job combined with studying part-time. Assessment takes place both at the place of study as well as in the workplace. Apprenticeships can be studied at different levels, at university, college, and with training providers.

Your questions answered

Education is compulsory until the age of 18. When you finish year 11, you will need to choose where to study for the next 2 years. It is important to remember that you can keep your options open and apply for more than one opportunity. For example, you can apply to 2 sixth forms, 3 colleges and an apprenticeship. It’s completely up to you!

You will have to study the core subjects selected by your school. It is important to pass your English, Maths, and Science GCSEs as they are valuable in future pathways. When choosing your optional GCSEs, you should select the subjects you enjoy or wish to pursue in the future.

You may find it useful to discuss your options with a teacher or member of your family.

No, you do not have to move away from home for university, but you may want to. You can do lots of things to help you decide – visit local universities and some in new towns or cities so you can get a feel for what might be right for you.

If you choose to go to university, you can study anywhere in the world! You could study locally and remain living at home, or move into university accommodation – the choice is yours.

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).

Start with research! Make sure to check out all colleges in your area; look at the courses available, any support they offer, and try to visit on an open day if you can! Once you have some options, you will be able to register your interest and apply online.

You can apply for an apprenticeship on the government website ( You can search for apprenticeships here and apply for them as you would with a job application, don’t forget to also look at employers websites too – sometimes they advertise their apprenticeships themselves.

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Further useful resources

  • 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.
  • Post-16 Pathways

    Explore your post-16 learning options.