Factors to consider
Once learners have decided on their chosen course the next decision they have to make is which HEI they want to study at. Below looks at some of the important factors they have to take into consideration before making their final decision.
Home or away?
The first decision learners need to make is whether to stay at home and travel in each day or move away to study. For many learners (for example those with family commitments) studying locally or by distance learning may be the only option.
Learners planning to study locally need to pay particular attention to how long it will take to travel to the university/college each day, how much this will cost and where exactly their particular course is taught.
Learners planning to move away need to work out how far from home they want to be and will need to spend time researching what sort of accommodation is on offer and how much it will cost.
Once learners have decided either to stay at home or move away they will need to find out which HE institutions offer the course they want to study. If they are planning to study full time they can go on to the UCAS web site to identify the institutions that offer the course they have chosen in the part of the country they want to study in.
If they are thinking of studying part time learndirect and hotcourses (see the useful web links section of this guide) provide information on part time and distance learning provision.
Higher education in a further education college - HE in FE
Some learners are unaware that they don’t need to go to university to obtain a higher education qualification. Many colleges offer HE courses; from HNCs and HNDs, to BAs and BScs. Last year approximately 159,000 chose to study HE at a further education college (FEC), and now 1 in 10 learners study in a FEC. University is not the only option, and it is important for students to be advised that there is more than one HE pathway available.
What are the advantages?
- Lower fees- FECs charge less for HE level qualifications than their university counterparts.
- Smaller class sizes –fewer learners study HE in FE, which means more one-on-one contact with tutors, and more individualised academic support.
- Geographical considerations – some learners may wish to study from home due to family/work commitments. Some areas have no local universities, making HE in FE the only way to study locally.
- Transition – some students are afraid of the huge transition from FE to HE. Studying HE in a college environment can allay fears and make the change a smoother one. The work will be no less difficult, but the familiar surroundings, locality and smaller staff to student ratio can combine to ease a student’s fears or concerns about progression.
What are the disadvantages?
- The uni experience – many learners will be excited about the world of a university – the large student cohort, the activities, the community feel, the halls …everything an FEC provides will be on a smaller scale, so students wanting the university experience may be disappointed.
- Prestige – friends and family may be unaware of HE in FE, and as such can be less than enthusiastic about the qualifications offered by colleges, seeing them as less prestigious than those offered by universities. Ultimately, though, it is for the learner and the learner alone to decide which institution will best support the next stage of their educational journey. Advisers should encourage learners to make decisions based on what they, not their friends and family, want.
Questions to ask
Whether studying locally or moving away learners will want to find out some or all of the following:
- How much are the tuition/course fees?
- What bursaries/scholarships/fee waivers etc. are on offer?
- What are the academic facilities, e.g. library & IT services like?
- What are the Social facilities like? Student support services – e.g. study skills support/financial advice/counselling
- What opportunities are there for part timework?
- What is the career service like?
- What links does the institution has with employers?
- What Is the student accommodation like
- What are the transports like?
- What is the local area like?
- Is it a campus or city location?
The Unistats website publishes the results of the annual National Student Survey which is an excellent source of information on a range of relevant areas. It includes information on student achievement, graduate employment, student population (including the number of mature, part time and overseas students) and what students who are at or have recently left the university have to say about their experiences.
Many universities based outside of the capital have specialist campuses within London, so a student who wishes to study closer to home may have more options than they realise. The following is a list of the HEIs which have London satellite campuses, as of 2016:
HEI: Bangor Business School, Bangor University
SUBJECTS: Business, Banking & Finance
HEI: Buckinghamshire New University
SUBJECTS: Nursing & Healthcare
HEI: Coventry University
SUBJECTS: Business, Finance, Hospitality, Tourism, Fashion, Marketing, Accounting, Finance and Management
HEI: Cumbria University
SUBJECTS: Policing & Education
HEI: University of Wales, Trinity St David’s
SUBJECTS: Business, Computing, Banking, Management, Marketing
SUBJECTS: Banking, Finance and Risk, Fashion and Luxury, Construction and Project Management, Business, Management and Marketing & Public Health
HEI: Anglia Ruskin University
SUBJECTS: Business, Law, Tourism, Marketing, Human Resources, Accounting, Finance, Hospitality, Healthcare
SUBJECTS: Design, Digital Technologies, Media & Creative Industries, Sport Business, Diplomacy & International Governance, Enterprise Development
HEI: Newcastle University
SUBJECTS: Accounting & Finance, Business Management, Marketing
SUBJECTS: Business, Computing, Management, Marketing, Mass Communication, Web & Mobile Technologies
HEI: University of Liverpool
SUBJECTS: Business & Finance, Leadership & Management, Architecture, Geography & Planning, Physical Sciences, Public Health, English Language Support, Executive Educative
HEI: University of Sunderland
SUBJECTS: Business Administration, Business, Management, Finance, Tourism, Nursing & Health, English for Academic Purposes
HEI: University of Ulster:
SUBJECTS: Business, Marketing, Accounting, Management
HEI: University of the West of Scotland
SUBJECTS: Business, Nursing, Health Studies