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Progressing and moving on to higher education

There are now a number of different ways to gain a higher education qualification. In addition to the traditional three or four year full time degree course at university, there are part time study options and relatively new pathways through a degree level apprenticeship with an employer.

A good place to start to find out more about these options is with UCAS in addition to a local programme called Next Steps South West which aims to provide useful information to help students think about where they'd like to be in the future and how to get there.

The UCAS website has a wealth of information regarding what to study, where to study, the application process, degree and higher apprenticeships, finance and paying for higher education amongst other key topics.

As a parent or carer you can provide support for your child by:

  • Enabling them to become aware that higher education could be a potential option for them
  • Checking with their school or college if there are any organised events taking place for example in Years 9 to 12 that help to raise their knowledge about higher education as an option. These could include visits to universities, talks and presentations at school and other careers events.
  • Attending open days at higher education institutions particularly during Year 12.
  • Checking with their school or college about any deadlines for the completion of applications. Many expect students to have completed their electronic application during the autumn in Year 13.
  • As part of the application process, students are expected to write a personal statement. Some young people find this the most challenging part of their application. Help them to seek out support and advice from their head of sixth form or tutor at school or college about how best to prepare a personal statement.
  • Before starting their application, ensure that they have thoroughly researched the courses and institutions that they wish to apply to. It is always advisable where possible to visit the university or college in advance.
  • Encourage them to research other alternative options such as apprenticeships including the new degree level apprenticeships.
  • Some students opt to take a gap year before starting their higher education course. It is important to ensure that any gap year is planned thoroughly in advance to enable the individual to gain maximum benefit from the experience. During a gap year students often participate in paid work, volunteering, travel or take the opportunity to learn a new skill.
  • A useful website to research alternative options to higher education is the Not Going to Uni website.
  • Find out about student finance including loans, tuition fees and the availability of any grants or bursaries. The UCAS website is a good place to begin and there are links within the website to information provided by the Student Finance England organisation.
  • Seek out expert help and advice on exam results day at the end of their sixth form or college course if your child feels that they may not have met the entry requirements for their chosen higher education course. There will be teachers, tutors and careers advisers available to on the day who can offer help. It can also be important to speak with the admissions tutor at the particular university or college to discuss any queries regarding their application.