When it comes to the UK education system, there can be so many different terms to try and categorise and separate the different qualifications. This can be done for a range of reasons, whether this is for the sake of ease in talking about these forms of education, some kind of legalities or in the case of non-advanced education, in the case of benefits.
Whatever the reason for this, these terms, including non-advanced education, can often be confusing and it can be easy to mix them up with each other.
In short, non-advanced education is a type of education that includes qualifications and forms of education that are not a degree or related to a degree, not a teaching qualification and not something similar to these. It includes a wide range of qualifications, such as A-Levels, T-Levels, Highers and Advanced Highers, level 3 NVQs, some BTECs, some apprenticeships and more.
Continue reading to learn more about what non-advanced education is and what forms of education count as part of it. This article will also talk you through how non-advanced education compares to other stages of education, such as further education and higher education.
Table of Contents
What is non-advanced education?
Non-advanced education is actually as it sounds, it covers forms of education that are not classed as being advanced education. However, you might be wondering exactly this means.
Non-advanced education will typically cover forms of education that are not studied at university and that won’t lead students to gain specific types of qualification, such as a degree, a teaching qualification or a qualification that is equivalent to this.
Non-advanced education can include both courses that are studied part-time and ones that are studied full-time. Students, undertaking forms of non-advanced education, may be studying at a school, at a sixth form, at a college or may even be homeschooled. For more information about what non-advanced education is, check out this article by Twinkl.
What are the main forms of non-advanced education?
In order to better understand what the term non-advanced education actually means and what forms of education are covered in this. As previously mentioned, non-advanced education includes a range of qualifications and forms of education.
You can see the main forms of non-advanced education that the government sets out in the following list.
- International Baccalaureate
- Pre-U qualifications
- Advanced Highers
- Study programmes in England
- Level 3 NVQs
- National diplomas
- Ordinary national diplomas
For more information about this, check out this page on the government’s website.
What is advanced education?
As previously mentioned, non-advanced education is very literally the forms of education that aren’t classed as advanced. Due to this, in order to better understand what non-advanced education actually is, it’s important to know what advanced education is.
Advanced education is the opposite of non-advanced education. This means it is where students are studying towards are qualification that is a degree or in preparation of a degree, a teaching qualification or some other kind of higher education course.
Similarly, to non-advanced education, advanced education can be studied part-time or full-time. However, unlike the wide range of different institutions that may offer non-advanced education courses, the main course providers for advanced education courses are universities and higher education colleges.
To learn more about what advanced education this, check out this guide on the government website.
Are A-Levels non-advanced education?
In the UK, A-Levels are level 3 qualifications and a form of further education that you can study in the UK. They are typically taken after students do GCSEs, although there is no actual limit on the age that you can take them.
Students will normally study their 3 or 4 A-Level qualifications at a sixth form or a college. For more information about what A-Level qualifications are, check out this Think Student article.
As we’ve previously established in this article, non-advanced education covers forms of education that don’t lead to degrees or teaching qualifications and they are typically studied at a school, sixth form or college. Therefore, it is clear that A-Levels are a form of non-advanced education as they fit these criteria.
Does an HNC count as non-advanced education?
A higher national certificate or HNC is a level 4 qualification in the UK or a level 8 qualification in Scotland. A HNC is a vocational qualification that is a form of higher education. Being vocational, students will often be taught with a more “hands-on” approach and so unlike a degree, students will be taught skills specifically for the world of work.
Also unlike a bachelor’s degree, for an HNC students will often study at a college rather than a university. For more information about HNC qualifications, check out this guide by the government website, NI Direct.
As a level 4 qualification, an HNC is not equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. However, it is roughly equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree. For more information about level 4 qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
Due to this, it can be hard to tell if an HNC would still count as being a form of non-advanced education or if it would be classed as advanced education.
The government classes an HNC as being a form of advanced education and so it does not count as non-advanced education. This is explicitly named on this page of the government website.
Also, due to being equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree an HNC may also be counted as being in preparation for a degree as students may also have the opportunity to “top up” their HNC into a full bachelor’s degree.
Do BTEC qualifications count as non-advanced education?
BTEC qualifications are another type of vocational qualifications that students can choose to study in the UK. Being vocational qualifications, BTECs are once again more hands on and teach students more specific work-related skills, particularly in comparison to their academic equivalents, such as GCSEs or A-Levels.
Unlike other qualifications, the term BTEC is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of different BTEC qualifications at different levels. Due to this, the answer to whether or not BTEC qualifications count as non-advanced education is slightly less clear than other qualifications.
First of all, we have BTEC Firsts, which are level 2 qualifications. These qualifications may be studied at school, sixth form or even college and are the equivalent to GCSEs or National 5 qualifications. As this type of qualification wouldn’t be studied at university and due to the fact that you wouldn’t receive a qualification that was related to a degree in any way or a teaching qualification, yes, BTEC First qualifications do count as non-advanced education.
Next up are BTEC National qualifications, which are level 3 qualifications. These can be studied at sixth form or college and are the equivalent to A-Levels and other qualifications that you can take as your post-GCSE options.
Once again, BTEC National qualifications do count as non-advanced education. This is because as mentioned above, A-Levels and their equivalent qualifications are forms of non-advanced education. They can also not be forms of advanced education as they are not studied at university and students won’t receive a degree or similar qualification at the end of the process.
Due to both of these types of BTEC qualification counting as non-advanced education, you might be wondering if any types of BTEC are forms of advanced education. Look at the following section to learn more.
Can BTEC qualifications count as advanced education?
When thinking about BTEC qualifications, students may instantly think of BTEC Firsts or BTEC National qualifications. This is most likely due to students being more familiar with them and likely having the option to have studied them.
What many students don’t know is that there are still many BTEC qualifications at a higher level than this. One type of these qualifications is BTEC Higher Nationals. BTEC Higher Nationals are at level 4 and 5.
You may notice the similarity to HNCs, being level 4 qualifications. This is due to the fact that BTEC Higher National qualifications will generally come in the form of higher national certificates (HNCs) or higher national diplomas (HNDs) depending on which qualification level you take them at. As with other HNCs, these types of BTECs won’t count as non-advanced education as they are equivalent to parts of a university degree.
Finally, students may take other kinds of BTEC qualification, such as BTEC Professionals or other high-level BTECs. As these may go all the way up to level 7 courses, which are equivalent to master’s degrees, these will not typically count as being non-advanced education due to their status as being equivalent to or even above the level of a bachelor’s degree.
For more information about the different kinds of BTEC qualification and more on what BTECs really are, as set out in both this section and the one above, check out this Think Student article.
Do apprenticeships count as non-advanced education?
An apprenticeship is a form of education, where the apprentice combines working with studying and on-the-job training. This will typically be with an 80% to 20% split of working to studying, and the studying will need to be specific and will normally be towards a specific qualification. The apprenticeship itself will typically last between 1 year and 5 years, depending on the level.
In a similar way to BTEC qualifications, apprenticeships come in a variety of different levels and different types. These include the following.
- Intermediate Apprenticeships- These are the lowest level of apprenticeship in the majority of the UK as level 2 qualifications. They are equivalent of GCSEs, however, this form of education is still a post-GCSE option and GCSE qualifications may even be required to study the course. Due to this, an Intermediate Apprenticeship should count as being non-advanced education as it isn’t at degree level.
- Advanced Apprenticeships– Advanced Apprenticeships are the next level up as they are level 3 qualifications. This makes them equivalent to A-Levels, BTEC Nationals and a range of other courses. Once again, Advanced Apprenticeships should be counted as non-advanced education due to the fact that they are equivalent to A-Level qualifications and so are not related to degree-level learning.
- Higher Apprenticeships- Unlike the two previous apprenticeship types, Higher Apprenticeships can be at a range of different qualification levels between level 4 and level 7. Therefore, this makes it not a form of non-advanced education as it encompasses a range of apprenticeships that are all at undergraduate or postgraduate level, being equivalent to courses that could be studied at university.
- Degree Apprenticeships- Degree Apprenticeships are exactly how they sound as the qualification that students are working towards in the 20% of the programme dedicated to studying will be a degree rather than a more vocational qualification, such as an NVQ or SVQ. Due to this, no, a Degree Apprenticeship is not counted as non-advanced education as students will literally be working towards a degree while studying.
For more information about this and apprenticeships, check out this Think Student guide.
Does a foundation degree count as non-advanced education?
A foundation degree is a type of qualification that students can study at university in the UK. It is a level 5 qualification that is designed to teach students skills that can be useful for both continuing their education as well as the workplace.
A foundation degree isn’t the same as a foundation year, instead it’s a qualification that is independent to a bachelor’s degree. However, the content is still similar enough that students may have the opportunity to progress to a full 3-year bachelor’s degree once they’re finished the foundation degree. For more information about foundation degrees, check out this Think Student article.
Due to not quite being a degree, you might be wondering if a foundation degree is still considered a part of advanced education, like a normal degree is.
As previously mentioned, advanced education includes qualifications, where the students are studying towards a degree or in preparation of a degree. In this case, a foundation degree would count as being in preparation of a degree. This is because the course itself was designed to prepare students for the option of further study and gives them the opportunity to top up their course and to progress into a full bachelor’s degree.
This means that no, a foundation degree is not counted as non-advanced education. To learn more about this, check out this guide by the government.
What qualification levels count as non-advanced education?
In the UK, many different types of qualifications can be sorted into rankings or categories, known as qualification levels. For the majority of the UK, there are 9 levels in total, ranging from entry level to level 8.
However, Scottish qualifications have different levels, these range from level 1 to level 12. For more information about qualification levels in the UK, check out this Think Student article.
In this article, we have already looked at examples of qualifications that do or don’t count as non-advanced education and we’ve explained why this is. In this, you might have noticed a trend of any qualification that is equivalent to A-Levels or below being counted as non-advanced education. Whereas qualifications that are equivalent to a HNC or the first year of university or above are classed as being advanced education.
This is due to the fact that advanced education is also defined as any qualification that is above level 3 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland or any qualification that is above level 7 for Scotland. The only exception to this is that the HNC in Scotland, as well as its more academic equivalent the certificate of higher education (CertHE), are both considered to be advanced education, like their equivalents in the rest of the UK, despite both being level 7 qualifications in Scotland.
To learn more about this, check out this guide on the government website.
Is further education the same as non-advanced education?
In the UK, further education is simply the education that students can choose to take after they have officially left school at the age of 16 as long as it’s not a form of higher education, which we’ll look at in the following section. Further education covers a wide range of qualifications all the way from entry level qualifications to level 3 qualifications or from level 1 to level 7 in Scotland.
Some of the main forms of further education are A-Levels, BTECs, T-Levels and apprenticeships. Although, they may also include GCSEs and a wide range of other qualifications, such as NVQs and more.
Due to this, yes, further education does form a part of non-advanced education in the UK. This is because none of its qualifications are at level 4 or above. However, it only forms part of non-advanced education as other stages of education, such as primary education and secondary education, will also technically form a part of non-advanced education.
For more information on further education, check out this Think Student article.
Is higher education the same as non-advanced education?
Higher education is any form of education that is taken beyond further education. This will normally be done after the age of 18 as students will typically need to have further education to be able to access higher education courses.
Higher education covers qualifications between level 4 and level 8, including qualifications, such as HNCs, HNDs, foundation degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorate degrees. For more information about higher education, check out this Think Student article.
Due to this, higher education does not count as non-advanced education. In fact, due to both higher education and advanced education starting at level 4, higher education and advanced education are pretty much the same thing.