Getting a degree can be extremely beneficial for students. It can help them to embark in a particular professional field, or continue their education with a Master’s degree or PhD. However, it’s also important that they know that there are many alternatives to university and that this isn’t the only pathway available to them after college.
Did you know that the average cost for a university degree is £9,250 per year? Not only do university students have the challenge of studying for three years for their degree‒they will also have a large student debt to pay back once their studies are over. These are all important factors to consider before committing to university life.
In this article, we’ll explore alternatives to university in the UK, and where they could take your child in the future.
Wondering What to Do Instead of University?
Not going to university doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to training and education. A higher apprenticeship is a great option for students who want to gain practical workplace skills and become qualified in a role that doesn’t require a degree. Most higher degrees mean you'll be working full-time (and getting paid a wage) to gain the practical skills needed for the role, but also carrying out part-time study at a college, university, or training provider.
Normally these apprenticeships can last anywhere from 1-5 years, with costs fully funded by the government and the employer. Even though a permanent position isn’t guaranteed at the end, government figures state that 90% of apprentices stay on in employment after their apprenticeship and 71% stay with the same employer.
Higher apprenticeships are offered in many industries such as construction, agriculture, animal care, the arts, publishing, media, business, law, engineering, IT, retail, healthcare, and more. For more information on higher apprenticeships, UCAS has lots of information.
Further Education (FE) Courses
If students want to continue with education but are looking to gain a qualification without it costing as much as going to university, many further education courses are free for those under the age of 19.
Here are just some of the FE qualifications available:
A foundation degree is basically two-thirds of a full honours degree. Like an apprenticeship, it's a qualification designed to prepare students for a specific area of work by combining academic study and work experience, and they're usually organised by universities in partnership with colleges. Students can move onto full-time employment after graduating, but many choose to 'top up' a foundation degree with a further year of study to turn it into a full honour’s degree.
Alternatively, an HND (Higher National Diploma), is a vocational qualification that is usually studied full-time for two years (or three years part-time) and is preparation for careers in industries such as design, engineering, computer science, business, health and social care, and hospitality.
When you’re looking for alternative options to university, Further Education courses provide a wealth of choices and open up many careers and opportunities. Furthermore, many of these courses can be taken in colleges local to you.
What about those looking for alternative options to university that offer employment opportunities? Entry-level jobs are great for students who have left school or college and want to get straight into the working industry. They don’t require formal higher education qualifications, however, some might require certain school grades or work experience, while others will just want to see enthusiasm and a great work ethic.
Positions can often be found in a variety of sectors, including accountancy, marketing, teaching assistant positions, or IT, and are usually full-time. Creating a great CV is the best way to be considered, and working in the company is an excellent way to kick-start a successful career.
Take A Gap Year
Taking a gap year can be an extremely enriching and transformative experience, especially for students who aren’t sure about going to university or just need some more time to consider their options. In the long run, it will help them make better decisions, grow on a personal level, and surprisingly help reduce the student dropout rate later on.
Even though it’s normal for students to worry that taking a gap year might look bad on a CV, as long as they do something productive with their time off, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. In fact, having an awareness of other cultures, language skills, independence and the ability to plan will all impress future employers. Volunteering abroad or teaching English as a foreign language are also excellent choices for students considering taking a year out.
Self-Employment/Setting Up A Small Business
For students who prefer to work independently or are full of creative ideas for making money, then setting up their own small business could be a fulfilling alternative to university or a full-time job. Alternatively, becoming self-employed might suit students who have skills in a specific area such as photography, writing, or graphic design. Even those in education could set up a side-hustle to earn a little extra income.
This means they can take on freelance work, which allows for more flexible working hours and the opportunity to build up a portfolio of work. Even though income from self-employment can be irregular and the pressure to succeed can feel difficult, being in charge can be very rewarding and a great path for students who have a real passion to be independent. These articles also have some excellent advice on how to start a business or what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
Discussing Alternatives to University With Your Child
When talking to your child about options beyond university, it’s important to keep the conversation supportive and open. Remember, uni isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! It’s essential to approach the discussion without judgement and let your child know that you respect their choices.
Encourage your child to explore different paths, such as apprenticeships, vocational training, or gaining practical experience in a field they’re interested in. There are so many opportunities out there waiting for them. Going to university is only one of them.
Prepare Your Child For Life Beyond Secondary School
GCSE results day can creep up fast. Once they are done and dusted, your child will have another two years of education ahead of them in the form of college or sixth form. Beyond that, the world is quite literally their oyster.
A private tutor can not only prepare your child for their GCSEs and A-Levels but can also start preparing them for what lies ahead. From inspiring them with career ideas to helping them with subjects that will help them land their dream job, our tutor services are tailored to suit your exact requirements. Find out local tutor today to get started.