The academic journey
Higher education is an optional final stage of formal learning normally undertaken by students aged 18 and over (17 in Scotland). Higher education and training is done at college or university.The academic year normally starts in September or October and runs until June or July. There can be some flexiblity with certain courses ranging from electrical courses to engineering apprenticeships in terms of start dates.
Courses in the UK are split into 2 levels:
Undergraduate programmes which include foundations degrees, bachelors’ degrees, highers national diplomas (HNDs). These are normally completed within 3 – 4 years if done on a full time basis. To undertake an undergraduate course you normally have to have achieved further education qualifications such as A-Levels. Postgraduate progammes which include masters’ degrees, PhDs, doctorates and MBAs. These type of programmes are often preceeded by an undergraduate qualification. There are 2 classifications of degrees, they are either Ordinary or Honours. The term Ordinary can be known as Unclassified too and is generally awarded when a student has completed a full degree course but not obtained the required pass level to merit a third-class honours degree.
In the UK there are authorities known as ‘recognised bodies’. They are the UK and Scottish parliaments and the Welsh and Northan Ireland Assemblies. These authorities recognise degree awarding powers in 160 Universities and colleges in the UK. There are over 700 universities and colleges (aswell as other institutions) which provide courses that lead to a recognised UK degree. These qualifications are respected by employers and academics worldwide. All UK courses have strict quality standards to adhere too, which are set by the afforementioned ‘recognised bodies’.
There is a modular structure to most higher education courses. This enables students to personalise their course by choosing certain modules and/or units of study from different subject areas. Such subject areas can range from engineering apprenticeships to a foundation degree in early years.