Higher Education in the North East

What is Higher Education?




Higher education is the term given to qualifications you may choose to study at 18 after completing further education. Higher Education qualifications are level 4 and above. In the North East we are lucky to have so many great providers of higher education so there is a range of choice available about what you study and where you study. Some careers require applicants to hold a specific higher education qualification, e.g. Doctors, dentists and teachers, however many careers favour those with a higher education qualification. We have explained some different types of higher education courses below. 

Bachelor's Degree

In the UK there are over 250 degree subjects to choose from, some may be familiar from school and some may be brand new. Studying for a degree allows you to learn about a subject in great detail, and find out about specific elements that interest you most. These courses typically take 3-4 years to complete and there is sometimes the option to spend a year abroad, or take a year out and work midway through.  

Foundation Degree

These courses usually take two years to complete on a full time basis and combine academic and workplace skills. Foundation degrees can be useful if you are unsure about completing a full bachelorís degree as they are a standalone qualification that can also be converted into a full bachelorís degree with an extra period of study. 

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships give you the option to combine work and study and gain a recognised qualification. Often you will work for four days a week and study at a university or college for one but this can vary depending on what you study. Apprenticeships are good if you have a certain career in mind, or if you want to apply your knowledge right from the very start. You will earn money whilst completing an apprenticeship and the wage that apprentices are paid depends on the level of apprenticeship and the length of time you have been studying. 


Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas are courses that are slightly shorter than degrees and apprenticeships and take one and two years to complete full time. These courses mix academic and vocational study and can provide access to higher education should you not meet the entry requirements for a bachelorís or foundation degree. Again, these courses act as standalone courses, or can be combined with other courses to complete a full bachelorís degree. 


National Vocational Qualifications are courses that allow you to gain a qualification recognising the skills in a particular career area. You are assessed through observation at work and a portfolio. This assessment happens as and when you are ready, so these courses are flexible in terms of their timeframe. To enrol on an NVQ course you must already be employed.

Why Higher Education?

Higher education brings a range of life long benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A greater range of jobs being available to you. Although you may need a specific qualification for certain careers, many careers will be opened up just by holding a higher education qualification. In fact, it is estimated that by 2022 half of all jobs will require a higher education qualification. 
  • Greater income over your working life. Evidence has shown that individuals holding a higher education qualification earn, on average, £500,000 more across their lifetime than non-graduate counterparts
  • The opportunity to gain work experience and network in your industry. Studying for a higher education qualification means the opportunity to meet experts in the field and have them pass on their expertise. 
  • A deeper knowledge and more advanced skill set in an area that interests you. You gain the opportunity to become an expert in your chosen field. 
  • You join a community at your chosen place of study. You can meet like-minded individuals who may become friends for life in addition to the opportunity to try new experiences through extra-curricular activities. These activities also add transferable skills to your CV (think time management and leadership!).   

Who studies for a HE Qualification?


Higher education is accessible for those aged 18 and over, people can study at any age and can follow full or part time routes to suit their lifestyle. To access higher education qualifications applicants will be expected to have some previous education, but there are many options available.

Where can I study for a HE Qualification?


There are a large number of higher education providers in the North East, and across the country. This means you have the option to experience a new town or city whilst studying too. Click here to see what each of the North East colleges and universities provide.