Understanding Education in the UK: What Are the Options for You?
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The Education System
in the UK
In the UK, the education system is split up into four main areas: Primary education, Secondary education, Further education and Higher Education. Education is compulsory until the age of 18, which can include full-time study, full-time work or volunteering with part-time education or apprenticeships. There are currently 30 Polytechnics in the UK, 162 Higher Education institutes and 218 Colleges. To help you understand how the education system in the UK works, take a look at some of the most common questions about education to determine what training is the best for you.
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Types of education in the UK
What is secondary education?
Secondary education in the UK is usually between the ages of 11-16 years old. Secondary eucation prepares students for Senior school and involves core education in areas such as English, Maths and Sciences. From the ages of 14-16, most students in the UK will take their GCSEs, or, General Certificate of Secondary Education. These are a set of exams ay Secondary school which marks the end of compulsory education in the United Kingdom.
What is further education?
Further education is any level course undertaken that is above ‘school age’– that is, over 16 years old and below a Degree level. In the UK, further education can be offered through Universities or Colleges and includes Certificate and Diploma level courses, usually Level 3-5. Further education covers vocational training, as well as the Certificate of higher Education (CertHE) and the Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE).
What is higher education?
Higher education is the phrase used to describe all of the courses you can take part in after further education. It falls under the third level of study after leaving school. Generally, most students take part in a Higher Education course once they’ve turned 18, however higher education is available to students of all ages over 18). The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) comprises the main higher education qualifications, which include levels 4 – 8.
Higher education courses are usually taught in the following institutions:
Higher education qualifications include:
What are vocational courses in the UK?
Vocational courses UK are hands-on learning programmes that are specifically designed to offer relevant qualifications for particular industry areas that value/require practical experience. Different types of vocational training courses are offered at Communiy college, career colleges, specialty trade schools
Vocational qualification courses have been structured to teach an applied approach, to help students build a relevant skillset to really thrive in an entry-level job, take on a role that requires further qualifications or as a pathway to higher levels of education. Vocational training courses in the UK are available at all levels – from Entry level to Level 8, and cover an extensive range of vocational subject areas.
Some examples of vocational training courses in the UK include:
So what courses should I take in College?
Colleges and Polytechnics in the UK offer thousands of courses across many different levels. These include National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ), foundation courses, A-Levels, Undergraduate courses and some Postgraduate courses. These courses range in difficulty, duration and learning outcomes, depending on the level of course it is.
NVQ Courses in the UK
NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualification. In the UK, NVQ courses are usually seen in level 3-5 courses, however, some institutes have level 6-7 NVQ courses. Vocational courses are used to show an understanding of a certain subject or area, and are used to demonstrate skills needed for careers in areas such as administration, business, IT, child care and more. Depending on the level of course, NVQs can take between 1-2 years, with some requiring longer. Examples of NVQ courses include:
Foundation Courses in the UK
A foundation course, which is also known as a Foundation year or degree, is a course offered by some Universities and Colleges in the UK. Foundation courses prepare students for more advanced study, usually at an Undergraduate level such as a Bachelor Degree. Most Foundation years go for one year and is a great pathway to University study. Some of the most popular Foundation courses are in subjects such as:
What is the highest level of education in the UK?
In the UK, as well as in most parts of the world, the highest level of education obtainable in the Doctoral Degree or PhD. In the UK, this is considered a ‘Level 8’ course, which is the highest in the UK Education Framework. Doctoral Degrees usually take 2-3 years to complete and require previous qualifications and experience to enrol. It’s important to know what level courses in the UK are equivalent to, or which hold the most value.
The different levels of courses in the Uk include:
Level 1 Courses
Level 1 courses in the UK are undertaken through secondary education. This includes Level 1 A Levels as well as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) . A Level courses typically take 5 years, or the duration of secondary school.
Level 3 + 4 Courses
A Level 3 Diploma in the UK are seen in Senior Schools and are at a pre-university level. This can include Level 3 NVQ courses, which are vocational education and trades, including the BTEC Level 3 Diploma or the General Certificate of Education (GCE). Courses on this level usually take 2 years to complete and are pathways to a University Degree.
Level 5 Diploma Courses
A level 5 certificate is the equivalent to a Higher National Diploma or Higher Certificate of Education in the UK. These are recognised courses and take 2-3 years to complete.
Level 6 Degree Courses
A Level 6 Degree in the UK includes Bachelor Degrees completed at University. These courses can take 3-4 years to complete and are the highest undergraduate level course.
Level 7 Courses
A Level 7 Master’s Degree or Postgraduate Certificate/ Diploma is the second highest level of education you can undertake in the UK. These level 7 courses offer a highly in-depth understanding of a given area and include research. They often follow an undergraduate degree and can take 1-2 years to complete.
Level 8 Courses
The highest level of education in the UK is the level 8 Doctoral Degree. This includes the phD and holds the most value. The Level 8 degrees require a high level of understanding and previous qualifications or experience. A Level 8 Degree can take 2-4 years to complete.
What is advanced Education and what is non-advanced?
The Tax Credit Office determines whether to continue tax credit payments based on whether a child over 16 is continuing study in advanced or non-advanced education. These standards are decided by the Child Tax Credit Regulations.
What is advanced education?
Advanced education in the UK includes courses such as:
What is non-Advanced education?
Non-advanced education in the UK includes courses such as:
Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) vs Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
What is a Certificate of Higher Eduction (CertHE)?
A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is awarded to students in the UK who have completed one year full-time (or part-time equivalent) of education at a Higher Education institute such as a University. It is a Level 4 courses in the Framework of Higher Education in the UK and can sometimes reduce the length of study in a Bachelor Degree.
What is a Diploma of Higher Eduction (DipHE)?
A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) are recognised qualifications given at a University level, and are used if you choose to leave a degree early or don’t wish to continue on. A Certificate of Higher Education is awarded after successful completion of one-year full-time study, and the Diploma of Higher Education after completion of two-years.
What can you do with a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) or a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)?
There are many things you can do with a Diploma of Higher Education, even if you don’t complete your degree. A DipHE can qualify you for plenty of jobs, especially in areas like business. A Diploma of Higher Education is the equivalent to a NVQ Level 4 course, like a Diploma of Management, which means that the opportunities for a career is the same for anyone who underwent the same level vocational course in the UK.
What level is a Certificate in Education?
A Certificate in Education is the equivalent of a Level 4 course. Other level 4 courses are typically undertaken at a UK College, Career College or specialty institute. A Level 4 course in the UK is considered vocational training, however, a Certificate of Higher Education is awarded while a student is at University and chooses not to complete their degree after one year.
What is classed as full-time education in the UK?
In the UK, full-time education is considered a workload with an average of 12 hours of supervised or ‘contact’ hours per week. This can include lectures, classes and any other work or course-related task. It does not include self-directed learning, study or homework. It also doesn’t include the time between classes or breaks. A full-time education workload is seen in most A levels, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and other qualifications up to level 3.
How many courses can you take in College UK?
UK colleges offer students thousands of courses across many subject areas. The number of courses or subjects you can take in College depends on your workload whether you’re full or part-time– as well as the type of course you choose at College: Foundation course, Undergraduate course or Postgraduate. It’s recommended to only take one of these courses at a time, however some Undergraduate Bachelor Degrees offer a double degree.
What is on the job training?
On the job training usually consists of training that occurs in the workplace. Some organisations choose to put their employees through training programs or workshops, while a common form of on-the-job training is carried out by trainees or apprentices in their jobs. On the job training in the UK is a great way to develop skills while earning an income, and is vital to a lot of trade areas such as: