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Universities and Higher Education

In most cases, you need to be at least 18 years old to take a higher education course. But, you can search and apply online for most of them.

Higher education (HE) courses are usually taught in colleges, universities, and some specialist institutions (e.g. art schools). The qualification would usually result in a diploma or degree.

Full-time Higher Education (HE) Courses

  • You can compare official course data about universities and colleges on the Discover Uni website. The official information can help you rate student satisfaction and the jobs they secured after study.
  • Use the UCAS website to fine tune your options and start planning your next steps. You can search and apply for full-time courses by course name, the provider name, or its location.
  • The National Careers Service provides information, expert advice, and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training, and opportunities for work.

Searching for Part-time Courses

  • The National Careers Service also allows you to search for full-time and part-time courses.
  • Even though you can search for part-time courses on the Unistats website (Discover Uni), you would need to apply directly to the college or the university.

The Open University Courses

  • The Open University is the largest academic institution in the United Kingdom and a world pioneer in distance learning. You can search and apply for courses through the world’s leading distance-learning provider which has taught more than a million students worldwide.

Education and Training in the Performing Arts

  • You can search and apply for a music conservatoire course through the website that specialises in music, dance, and drama courses.

Teacher Training

Undergraduate Teacher Training

Information on the UCAS teacher training website is for individuals who want to become a teacher in the United Kingdom. You could consider it as the ideal starting point for all types of teacher training undergraduate courses (including postgraduate courses in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).

Postgraduate Teacher Training

Check the GOV.UK website to find postgraduate teacher training courses in England (e.g. to be able to teach in a state primary or secondary school, or in further education).

Postgraduate Courses

You can search for postgraduate study opportunities on the Prospects website as well as at Postgraduate Search (for a complete listing of UK postgraduate courses).

Courses Conducted at Private Institutions

You can search the UCAS website for some courses that are available at private institutions. As a rule, you would need to apply directly for these courses with the actual college or university.

Note: You can get extra help and advice by calling the UCAS Exam Results Helpline number below. This is also the recommended option if the results of your exam were higher or lower than you expected.

UCAS Exam Results Helpline
Telephone: 0808 100 8000
Learn about call charges

University and Higher Education Guides

Check for Officially Recognised Universities and Colleges

The institutions that offer degree-level courses will either be one of the ‘recognised’ or ‘listed’ bodies in the United Kingdom.

Only the higher learning institutions listed as ‘recognised bodies‘ can award degrees. Whereas, the ‘listed bodies‘ will not be able to award degrees themselves. So, a recognised body will award the degree if you study a degree course at a listed body.

Why is this important?

There is no guarantee that your degree would count (e.g. when searching for a job) if it is not from one of the officially recognised United Kingdom universities or colleges.

You can also send an email to the Office for Students to check whether a university or college is officially recognised.

Office for Students
Email: [email protected]

Note: Certain types of educational bodies and institutions will award their own unique degrees, known as ‘recognised awards‘ (e.g. a Mastership in Clinical Biochemistry).

UCAS System of University Clearing

There are other options available even if you fail to get a place on your preferred university course. You can search for another course through Clearing, if you have:

  • Already attained reasonable exam results.
  • Flexibility about which course you study.

In some cases, you may still secure a place on a chosen course if you missed the grades by a narrow margin.

To use Clearing you must:

  • Have completed a UCAS application.
  • Not received any offers (or none confirmed).
  • Have turned down any of the offers you received (if applicable).

Note: Applying late for a course (e.g. after the 30th of June) means you would be entered into Clearing by automatic process.

Finding a Course through UCAS Clearing

The UCAS system of Clearing runs from the middle of July through to September each year. So, you can check which courses have vacancies from the middle of August to the end of September. But, places get filled quickly and not all universities or courses will have vacancies.

If You Accept an Offer

You cannot accept more than one (1) offer. Furthermore, once you get your place confirmed, you would need to accept it. Thus, you cannot look for another place to replace the one you’re given.

University and Funding for Mature Students

You do not need to have any of the traditional qualifications to study as a mature student at a university. Furthermore, mature students can also apply for certain types of funding.

Course Entry Requirements

It is best to check with the college or university about their specific course entry requirements. Many universities accept professional qualifications (or evidence of some relevant work experience). But, some will require you to have:

Note: As the name suggests, the Open University is ‘open to everyone’. So, there are no prerequisite qualifications needed to study (see details above).

Universities and Higher Education in the United Kingdom