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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

University and higher education: your child’s options

You may have some questions if your child is thinking of going into higher education – especially if you don’t have any experience of it yourself. There’s plenty of information available on courses, careers, costs and more.

What could higher education do for my child?

Higher education is about your child taking their education to the next level and fulfilling their potential. As well as opening up new career options, higher education means opportunities to meet new people and take part in a wide range of social and sporting activities.

It can also help develop a sense of independence - without the immediate pressures of full-time work.

Higher education can help open up a range of exciting careers

Higher education and career prospects

More and more, employers are looking for skilled and educated workers. A higher education qualification can help your child get into an exciting range of careers.

And on average, graduates tend to earn substantially more than people with A levels who did not go to university. Projected over a working lifetime, the difference is something like £100,000 before tax at today’s valuation.

Is higher education right for my child?

There are more ways to get into higher education than ever before

University or college is an option for everyone who has the ability to succeed in higher education.

Once university was seen as being only for those from better-off families, but this is no longer true. More people are going into higher education than ever before - including students from all backgrounds, and at different ages.

There are more ways to get in than ever before. NVQs, a BTEC or other work-related qualifications - and, in the future, the 14-19 Diploma - can be a route into higher education, as well as the traditional A levels.

So even if no-one else from your family has been to university, there’s no reason why your child shouldn't.

What can my child study?

There’s a huge range of courses on offer, from ancient history to hospitality management to veterinary nursing.

It’s important that your child studies subjects they enjoy, but if they’re planning to go to college or university they should check what subjects they’ll need to get on the course they want.

For example, if they’re interested in a science course or career they may need GCSEs, A levels or equivalent qualifications in science subjects.

What financial help is available?

How their child will pay for higher education is a concern for many parents, but there’s plenty of financial support available. Use the links below to find out what support there is available and what parents and partners have to do as part of a student finance application.

Does my child have to move away from home?

Not necessarily: many local colleges now offer higher education courses. Plenty of people stay at home while they’re studying, and it can be convenient - as well as cheaper.

On the other hand, moving away means a wider choice of courses - and it can help develop a sense of independence.

What are the options for a gap year?

Gap years are increasingly popular, and taking some time away from study can help broaden your child’s experience.

If your child wants to take a gap year, encourage them to make plans so they get the most out of it. They should also check that the colleges and universities they’re applying to will accept an application for deferred entry.

Where can I find out more about higher education?

‘Help your child into higher education’, the Aimhigher guide for parents, has more information on higher education - including what your child can get out of it, how they can get into university or college and what student life is like.

You can download a copy below, or order one by:

  • tel: 0845 015 0010
  • textphone: 0845 015 0030

Quote reference 'URN 09/1159'. An audio version is also available (quote 'URN 09/1336').

Where can my child get advice?

Advice is available from teachers or lecturers and from careers advisers at school or the Careers Helpline for Young People. See ‘Where to go, what to study’ for guidance on finding out more about universities, colleges and courses.

Useful contacts

Additional links

The Diploma

Find out more about The Diploma

A new qualification for 14 to 19 year olds

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