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Mat Wright

What is a pathway course? 

Foundation pathway courses can help you improve your English skills and give you the confidence to start undergraduate or postgraduate study. 

Further education institutions offer many of the same courses as schools and higher education institutions, as well as vocational and technical courses designed to meet the needs of employers. They are taught in a way to suit those who prefer to learn in a vocational context.

You can find a list of UK further education colleges on the AoC website, or search for a specific course using the National Careers Service course search.

What types of courses are there? 

  • Academic pathway courses

Including AS and A levels, International Baccalaureate and undergraduate study – can lead to university, an apprenticeship or a job. 

If you do not meet the academic or English language requirements set by the university that you are interested in, then a pathways course can help you plot a route onto your chosen degree.

  • Applied general or technical pathway courses

Including national vocational qualifications and business and technical qualifications – can lead to higher apprenticeships, higher education at college or university, or a job.

  • Occupational or professional pathway courses

Taken in apprenticeships or through training courses for employees – can lead to higher apprenticeships, a job or promotion.

Note: As apprenticeships are primarily focused on the job and employment, any international applicant must be eligible to work in the UK, as well as have the necessary visa.

Why choose a UK further education

  • All UK further education institutions are held to strict quality standards, so that you can be sure that you are getting a world class education.
  • UK further education institutions have strong links with industry, ensuring that what you learn is relevant to your career aspirations.
  • Qualifications are approved on the basis that they meet industry needs.
  • Many courses are designed and delivered in partnership with industry experts and local employers. 
  • Employers and further education institutions partner to offer apprenticeships, years in industry and work placements that all offer ways to work towards qualifications while working (subject to visa restrictions).
  • Further education institutions are innovative, with state-of-the-art facilities mirroring the work-place. They make use of the latest technologies to teach and learn, and offer virtual reality employment-based learning experiences. 
  • Many further education institutions encourage entrepreneurial learning, including a focus on social enterprise activities. This develops innovative approaches and creative and critical thinking skills that allow you to set up your own enterprises, or rise to positions of influence within existing organisations. 
  • Many UK colleges are institutions of both further and higher education. They offer a wide range of full time and part time courses in a huge variety of subjects and specialisms, to different levels, to students from all over the world, and to students of all ages. This means you could be part of a vibrant student community.

For more information about why to study further education in the UK, visit the Association of Colleges (AoC) website. The AoC also have a useful set of key facts about UK Further Education Colleges.

How to apply for a pathway course

  • Most further education courses require you to apply directly to your chosen institution. Application forms can usually be found on their website where they set their own entry requirements.
  • If you need to find out if your qualifications are equivalent to their requirements, visit UK NARIC.
  • If English isn’t your first language, the institution may ask you to take an English language test or show your English language qualifications before you can enrol. You also need to check your visa requirements.

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