Vocational qualifications

Why choose a vocational route to university level study?

Although some university level courses specifically request A levels there are lots of higher education courses, offered by both colleges and universities, that will accept vocational qualifications too - especially if the higher education (university level) course is related to the Level 3 vocational qualification you have completed.

The new Applied General qualifications (which includes many BTEC and OCR Cambridge qualifications) have been recognised by many Higher Education Institutions (Universities) as fulfilling entry requirements to a range of HE courses, either in their own right or alongside other Level 3 qualifications.

So, you don't have to take the traditional A level route to university level study and many students choose a vocational qualification route instead.

How can they prepare you for HE level study?

Level 3 (Advanced Level) vocational qualifications can provide you with a very effective preparation to progress to higher level study. The experience of studying a particular vocational area can also help you make up your mind about the type of work you can see yourself doing in the future.

Many people choosing a vocational route already know the job sector they want to work in and a vocational qualification can give a firm foundation for further study at a higher level as preparation for a future career.

If you choose the vocational route and you later change your mind, you will still have demonstrated a wide range of skills that will be transferable to different subject areas or a range of jobs and careers...

  • Independent study skills (research, organisation, meeting deadlines)
  • Interpersonal skills (communication, team work)
  • IT skills
  • Numeracy skills
  • Literacy skills

These transferable skills can be useful whatever subject you decide to study at university.

Are they recognised by universities?

About half of the people with vocational qualifications progress to higher education and six of the top ten subject areas in higher education are vocationally-related disciplines. 

All applications to UK universities go through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service – UCAS. Vocational qualifications are increasingly being recognised as university entry qualifications in the UCAS points system which awards different points to different qualifications.

You can find out what UCAS tariff points you will get for different qualifications here but if your qualification doesn't show look at more detail about the tariff hereor contact UCAS direct.

When you look at the entry requirements for a particular university course this can be shown in terms of the grades needed and/or the UCAS tariff points required.

UCAS is introducing a new Tariff for entry to higher education in 2017. College and universities might mention the new tariff points or grades they require for entry.

In addition to your qualifications and skills, you may also have considerable work experience to offer and this is often also taken into account in your university application.

If you are interested in a higher education course next or in the future, check out the Careerpilot section HE at 18 or later.

It’s also a good idea to check out the entry requirements and get advice about choosing degree courses.