As we approach the summer and another year of A-Levels, thousands of students across the UK will be frantically revising in the hopes of achieving their required grades. But many pupils are questioning whether university is mandatory in the UK. After finishing school, the freedom of where to go career-wise seems endless and is daunting for many. However, by knowing the options available, as well as what is required post-18, it can help to ease the pressure on these decisions.
In the UK, it is not legally required to attend university or to possess a degree. However, having degree level qualifications in any subject area will massively increase your chances of succeeding in your future job applications. Around 42% of British people over the age of 21 hold a degree, but these weren’t all achieved by going to university. There are plenty of options besides university which end in the same level of qualification and these alternatives are all worth considering.
This article will explain the requirements for university and some tips on making the right choice when it comes to choosing your educational path post-18.
Table of Contents
Do You Need to Go to University?
In the UK, you are neither required nor obligated to go to university. Lots of students go to university so that they can achieve further education, but there are plenty of other ways to obtain higher qualifications.
There are some factors to consider before deciding on university, as well as some common misconceptions. For example, if you feel that you need a break before continuing your education, it’s possible to defer your entry and take a gap year without having to re-apply for the following academic year.
The cost of university can quite frequently be the source of stress for prospective students in the UK. However, there is no reason for money to be the sole factor preventing you from attending university, as there are several methods available to get around the cost, such as scholarships and student loans. For more information on how to get a university scholarship, click here. If you would like to see the costs associate with university then check out this article.
If you are unsure on whether to attend university or not, there are plenty of contingency plans in place to remove as much of the stress when applying as possible. It’s always a clever idea to apply, no matter your future plans. If you suddenly decide during the summer that university is for you and haven’t already applied, you’ll need to apply for the next academic year and won’t be able to use the school applications process.
Can You Go to University at Any Age?
Technically speaking there is neither an age requirement nor limit on whether a person can attend university. As degrees can take varying amounts of time to complete depending on what is being studied, applications will be considered from people of all age groups.
It is quite common for older students to go back to university in later life if they were unable or unwilling to obtain a degree before. This can be especially useful for adults who did not receive the A-Level grades required to be offered a place at their chosen universities, as the rules on necessary achievement grades change when a person is over a certain age.
The age rule is also particularly useful for students who wish to take a gap year or have previously planned to take an extended break from education before returning to receive a degree.
Whilst it is far rarer, it is also possible for students under the age of 18 to be accepted into certain universities. When a pupil starts to show exceptional academic talent, a school may enter them for either GCSE or A-Level qualifications a year early. As long as a student has the pre-requisites and grades required, there is no reason a university won’t accept them before turning 18.
For a full explanation of the age range for university and how long certain courses take in comparison to others, click here.
Is it Hard to Get into University?
The difficulty of getting accepted depends on the quality of the university you’ve applied for. In the UK, Russell Group universities receive the most applications because they are seen as better institutions, meaning naturally, their acceptance rates are lower.
If you’re applying to a Russell Group University, there will be tough competition to get in, meaning it is harder to be accepted. Universities such as Exeter and Leeds look for students in the AAB range, but even so providing details on relevant activities outside of academic study will be vital to increasing your chance of success.
For lower-brow universities, the application process is generally easier, and these schools will be more lenient with grades. This doesn’t mean to say you’ll given a free pass to do no work at A-Level for two years, but if you’re looking for a less challenging application process, then registering to a less notable institution is the safest option.
To learn further information on the lenience of universities when it comes to grades, click here.
Should You Go to University?
Although the older generation seems to expect young people to attend university, you must remember it’s important to follow the path which suits you the best. With that in mind, it must be said that most respectable career paths require a degree of some kind in order to find a decent position.
Therefore, it is strongly suggested that students attend some form of further education to give them a good chance for progression in later life. However, not all careers need a degree. If you aspire to join the world of performance art, work as a personal trainer or become the next big business tycoon, you won’t need any form of qualification, just the right mindset. If you are unsure on the worth of further education, click here to read a student’s opinion on whether you should go to university.
For some people, they may also question whether the university format is for them. The content taught is harder than any A-Level and will require far more detail. Therefore, if you believe that university may be too much of a stretch then there are other practical-based courses which can be taken to enhance your career prospects instead. To find out more about the difficulty involved in a degree, click here.
What Other Options are Available Post-18?
After finishing school, most students immediately turn to university, but there are plenty more options available that aren’t explored as thoroughly at school. The most important starting point is to research the area you wish to go into and what others in the profession recommend doing. For example, an actor would recommend finding an agent before getting a degree.
The first of your other options is an apprenticeship, the second most popular option after university. An apprenticeship involves both working and studying for a degree simultaneously, allowing you to earn money, gain work experience and finish with higher qualifications as well. Read this article to find out more about apprenticeships.
Other than this, there are lots of taster opportunities available. Foundation courses allow you to try various university courses, giving you an idea of what’s involved. On the other hand, internships and school leavers programs both enable students to attempt working in their preferred career area. Sometimes these involve training with big companies which can lead to further opportunities once you’ve qualified.
For a full run down of all the possibilities post-school, click here and read the official government website advice.