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Careers Column 7 - Higher education – is it right for my child?

17 August 2016

Throughout the summer our expert Advice Team is running a special Careers Column in the Gloucester Citizen, Gloucestershire Echo, Stroud Life and Forest Citizen, advising parents on how to help their children make the right choice for their education and future careers.

If you didn't catch it in the paper, don't worry - we will be posting the articles here on the GC news page each week on a Wednesday.

Week 7 - Higher education - is it right for my child?

Click the image to view the published article or read it below:

Gc Careers Columns 2016 Week 7














Higher education – is it right for my child?

By Ruth Thomas, Independent Careers and Higher Education Adviser

Making the choice to undertake higher education isn’t always a straight forward decision as there are an increasing number of options, including types of courses, types of qualifications and places to study. And, of course, it depends on individual circumstances, academic requirements and personal learning styles too. 

A burning question for many parents and students is whether it is financially worthwhile to do a full-time higher education course – will it pay off in the long run?  If you are basing your decision on this then it’s positive news. Government statistics confirm that graduates and postgraduates have higher employment rates and average earnings.

Image representing Careers Column 7 - Higher education – is it right for my child?

 If you are still undecided, ask the following questions:

  • Does my child need higher level qualifications for the job they want to do?
  • Do they want to continue their studies on a full-time or part-time basis?
  • Do they want to gain more qualifications whilst in paid employment?
  • Do they want to go away and experience university life?
  • Do they want to study an academic subject they love, or a subject linked to a particular job role?
  • Is there a financial cost to studying higher education?
  • Is there somewhere that I can study locally?
  • Does my child have the right Level 3 qualifications to be able to study higher education?
  • What type of qualification would suit my child best?
  • Are they ready to commit to doing more studies? Will they stick at it?

If you need help answering any of the above, contact local higher education and apprenticeship providers at and

For general advice and information visit

What are the options for higher education?

Bachelor’s degrees

The standard length is three years but can be four years if it includes a placement year. More recently some institutions are even offering two-year degrees. Subjects can be academic or vocational, and can be studied at university and sometimes further education colleges in partnership with a university.

Foundation degrees

Usually two-year courses equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, related to practical application in the workplace. Good for those who know what career they want, and there is the option to study alongside paid employment, as well as studying full-time. These can often be topped up with a third year at university to convert to a full degree.


Similar to foundation degrees, an HNC is usually one-year full time and an HND is two years. Again, they are work-related and can lead to a full degree at university with more studies. HNCs and HNDs are commonly offered at colleges and can be taken as part of a higher apprenticeship.

Degree apprenticeships

Launched by the government in September 2015, these degrees focus on specific industries and apprentices will split their time between university-level study and the workplace, and will be employed throughout. Degree apprentices gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university. A big bonus here is that there are no tuition fees to pay.

Whichever pathway your child decides to choose, the GC Advice Team is here to help. Email or call 0345 155 2020 for independent advice and guidance.

Why Gloucestershire College?

We have a lot of experience offering Apprenticeships and work-related training. We have industry-standard facilities and experienced teaching staff which provide the ideal complement to work-based learning.

We are here to help

0345 155 2020

90% of students would recommend GC and 95% said that the teaching on their course was good.

Ofsted has rated us good.

  • We offer industry relevant facilities
  • Our lecturers are passionate subject specialists
  • Employers value our students' skills

We'll look after you. We have dedicated teams to help you and a great Learning Mentor scheme.