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Alternative Options to University

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Sharon Walpole, Director at Careermap, gives the following advice on what options are available to students collecting their A Level results, offering alternative options to university.

Alternative options to university as explained by Sharon Walpole
Sharon Walpole, Director at

With A-level results day now in the very recent past, this can be a hugely overwhelming time if you’re undecided about university, didn’t get the grades you might have needed or your plans have changed. The vast number of options out there can make it hard to decide on which route is the best for you, but it’s important to know that there are alternative options to university.

Degree apprenticeships

Want a degree but don’t want to go to university? Many employers actually offer degree apprenticeships that are partnered with universities of further education equivalents. You’ll be able to land yourself a worthwhile degree and earn money in the process. What’s more, most apprenticeships offer jobs upon completion and as you would already know the ropes, you’ll often be offered a better salary than graduates. With no student debt and a good job at the end of it, this practical way of learning is available in a huge range of subjects from accounting to law, meaning that there’s something for everyone.

alternative options to university
Many employers actually offer degree apprenticeships that are partnered with universities

School Leaver Programmes

If you think you’re ready to start work and you have a pretty good idea of the career path you want to head down, take a look at the numerous School Leaver Programmes available. These employer-led programmes offer a direct and simple route into the world of work. Similar to apprenticeships, you can earn while you learn, and the opportunities to develop your skills and expand your network are endless. In addition to this, many employers offer post-18 job opportunities that allow you to progress far enough to land the same role as graduates, only without the debt. 

alternative options to university
‘Earn while you learn,’ says Sharon Walpole

Take a gap year

Perhaps the thought of work or further education is the last thing on your mind, and you want to gain some life experience first. If a break is what you need, taking a gap year is a great idea to gain invaluable life experience, whilst having the opportunity to travel the world. Many employers value the experiences you gain whilst taking some time out, so use this time to relax and take your time with making your next big decision. Try enhancing your CV by working abroad and push yourself to develop your language skills to really make the most of your time out. 

alternative options to university
Lattitude Global Volunteering offers bursaries, helping to fund gap year volunteering projects
Photo credit: Hamish Johns

These are just a few of the routes available to you. You can also choose to do a standard apprenticeship or even choose to progress with further education at college with a BTEC HNC, BTEC HNC or NVQ.

Likewise, if you didn’t get the grades you wanted in order to go to university, you can choose to go through UCAS Clearing, or if you got better grades than expecting you can go through UCAS Adjustment in order to trade your agreed course for a better one.

Still stuck, or keen to read more? Click here for tips and advice.