Whether you are in year 13 – or in years 11 and 12 thinking ahead to applying, here’s a look at some of the many benefits of choosing a degree at one of the colleges.

In this region, most of the local colleges now offer higher education courses. Some are at a separate University Centre such as UCW in Weston or YCUC at Yeovil. The rest are typically offered under the main banner of the College and most will be working in partnership with a local university such as Plymouth, UWE, Gloucester or Bath Spa.

Higher education courses at the colleges include Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC/HND) as well as Foundation Degrees (FdA/FdSc), increasingly with the opportunity to top-up to complete a full Honours degree (BA Hons/BSc Hons). Some also offer Masters Degrees (MA/MSc) and you can find most of them on the UCAS Search website in the usual way as well as on the academic noticeboards on Careersnearhere.

They are recognised level 4, 5 and 6 qualifications worth serious consideration for many reasons. Here’s some of the benefits of choosing this route …

Location:

This is one of the factors to take into consideration when choosing any Uni. You might want to be in a particular town – or near to home to avoid accommodation costs. College might just be the answer.

Course structure:

Again, a key consideration when choosing any course is to research the structure and content first. If you find exactly the right course for you, the right modules, the right mix of project work and employer contact, it could well be at your local college.

Size:

A degree at college can often mean that you get a smaller class and YCUC promote this as a particular benefit of studying with them. A college, like any smaller Uni, may also have a reputation for good links between individual students, tutors and student groups as well as a close-knit Students’ Union.

Choice of courses:

Smaller colleges can deliver niche courses at degree level which mainstream Unis may not offer. Bath College, for example, offers a Level 4 HNC Diploma in Building Services Engineering, whilst Access Creative College in Bristol (formally Access to Music) offers a Level 4 in Artist Development. And the large colleges can offer an extensive choice of courses: UCW in North Somerset, for example, may be relatively new, but Weston College beforehand have been offering higher education courses for over 20 years and so the University Centre was able to launch with almost 40 degree subjects and with more arriving all the time.

Quality of courses:

In delivering a degree on behalf of a partner university, you can be sure the course meets the academic standards of that Uni. It also means that the University endorses the quality of the college, tutors and facilities.

Bristol City Community Trust at Ashton Gate, for example, delivers a BA (Hons) Sports Business and Entrepreneurship in partnership with UWE, Bristol. Meanwhile, DBS Music offer a BA (Hons) in Live Sound in partnership with University of St Mark & St John University (Plymouth MarJon).

Facilities:

Depending on your personal interests and choice of course, your final decision could come down to your preference for the facilities at a particular college. This could be the recreational and social facilities or the chance to study in a new purpose-built location with the latest technology.

Yeovil College University Centre, for example, promotes resources such as its engineering laboratories, Fine Art studios, 3D printers, superfast Wi-Fi and advanced IT laboratories. And where a local college is delivering a degree on behalf of a partner Uni, that Uni will often also extend access to its online facilities and more.

Fees and entry requirements:

Many of the benefits of college-based degrees come from the opportunity to start with a Foundation Degree. We’ll look at these in more detail in a future blog, but in a nutshell, these degrees typically cost less than an honours degree, they can include employability skills designed in conjunction with businesses, they are a stepping stone to transfer onto a full honours degree when you graduate and generally, they have lower entry requirements – something which may also be important as a UCAS Insurance (reserve) choice in year 13.

Local:

If you want to study for a degree in History, Heritage and Archaeology, but want to stay local, you can do this at Strode College. If you want to study for a degree in Computer Games Design and Development, you can do this at SGS College. If you want to study Business, there’s a degree course at City of Bristol College.

When you’d simply rather stay near your family and friends, it often isn’t necessary to move to a Uni on the other side of the country. Type Bristol or Bath into the Location box on UCAS Search and see what it reveals! Or take a look under the career sector of choice on Careersnearhere.com: we signpost to a variety of local courses relevant to the career you are interested in.

We’d also recommend the fantastic college and university centre Open Days – such as the Yeovil College open evening on 24th January 2018. They are advertised on Careersnearhere.com and promoted in our weekly careers bulletins. Try and get along to see for yourself. Worth a look.

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