Universities and colleges offer both academic and work-related courses. Depending on the subject and the type of job you're interested in, you can gain one of many types of qualifications - higher education is not just about getting a degree.

Degrees
Degrees are higher education qualifications that help you develop a thorough understanding of a subject. There are several different types and a vast number of subjects to choose from.

Bachelors degrees
A bachelors degree (sometimes known as an 'ordinary' or 'first' degree) can lead to a qualification such as a bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of science (BSc), or bachelor of medicine (MB). Depending on the subject you choose, it normally takes three or four years to complete full-time.
To find out more, see 'Bachelors degrees'.

Bachelors degrees
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Foundation Degrees

Foundation Degrees combine academic study with workplace learning. They are broadly equivalent to the first two years of a bachelors degree.
They provide a route into university or college for a broad range of students from many different backgrounds.

Foundation Degrees
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Foundation Degrees: real-life stories

Higher degrees
Higher (also called postgraduate) degrees, diplomas and certificates usually require that you already have a bachelors degree. They lead to qualifications such as master of arts (MA) and master of science (MSc). See 'Postgraduate qualifications' to find out more.

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)
HNCs and HNDs are work-related courses provided by higher education colleges and further education colleges. They are available in a wide range of subjects from accounting to video production. Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas.

Higher education diplomas and certificates

As well as HNCs and HNDs, you can study for a range of higher education diplomas in subjects as varied as accounting, construction, engineering, nursing, science, technology and textile design. They usually take two years. You can normally convert your higher education diploma to a degree with an extra year of study. Certificates of higher education are academic, rather than vocational qualifications. There are broadly equivalent to an HNC, and usually take a year of full-time study to complete. See a list of higher education qualifications.