Higher Education decisions

With more than 50,000 degree courses available at 300 institutions across the UK alone, making the correct decisions can seem bewildering. Whilst ultimately the decisions made must be your son/daughter's, as a parent or carer, you can offer invaluable support and make the journey to higher education much easier to navigate.

The benefits of university

There are many significant benefits to choosing higher education. More than 60% of graduate-level vacancies do not require a specific degree, however other courses provide in-depth subject knowledge that is vital for many career choices.

Employers value the commitment to study, and transferable skills developed at degree level, such as communication, problem-solving, and organisation. Development of these skills and more gives students an edge in the job market, and lead to a rich and fulfilling career. A degree is also necessary for postgraduate study and training opportunities. Overall, a degree offers the chance of fast career progression and increased earning potential.

Choosing a course

A wide range of courses are available and it is essential that your son/daughter researches the available options; the content of courses with identical titles and course codes can vary dramatically between institutions.

The UCAS website lists all the undergraduate full-time courses available in the UK, so this is a good place to start searching. They can apply for up to five courses (more than one course can be at the same institution), but should not use more than four choices for Dentistry, Medicine or Veterinary Science. 

Most universities offer BA (Bachelor of Arts), BEng (Bachelor of Engineering) and BSc (Bachelor of Science) undergraduate degree courses, which typically take three years to complete, and four-year integrated Masters (MA, MSci, MLibArts). In many cases, Engineering and Science programmes are available as four-year undergraduate integrated masters degrees (MEng, MSci). Dentistry, Medicine and Veterinary Science programmes are longer in duration. In some instances, courses are available with a foundation year, a year spent working in industry or a year spent studying overseas.  

If your son/daughter isn’t sure which to apply for, we recommend applying for the Masters course. Most universities will usually let students transfer between related Bachelor and Masters courses, and applying for the longer course in the first place means they’ll have their student funding arranged.

Choosing a university

When you’ve narrowed down the choices, visiting open days is a really good way to get a feel for each university and what they have to offer - our open day factsheet (PDF, 338kB) has some useful tips for getting the most out of your visits.

Things to consider

  • The university’s reputation;
  • whether the university is based in a campus university or city centre university;
  • facilities and support offered to students;
  • distance to the university from home, and how accommodation is provided;
  • the financial support available at the university.

Making the right decisions at school/college

If your son/daughter has a particular degree in mind, they should check if that course has any particular subject requirements at A-level (or equivalent) in the entry criteria tables in our undergraduate course finder.

Otherwise, they should consider what subjects they enjoy studying and where these could lead in terms of university courses. If they have a favourite subject, but are not sure what degree courses are available, our 'What can I do with...' web page might be a good place to start exploring what degrees at Bristol require that subject. UCAS also offers useful advice on choosing a degree subject and career options.

Is it an advantage to have four A-levels?

Offers at the University of Bristol are made on the basis of three A2-level grades. If your son/daughter is considering carrying more than three subjects through to A2-level, they should consider the additional workload, and whether this might jeopardise their level of success in other subjects, before making a decision.

What happens if my son/daughter is ill during their exams?

If your son/daughter has any extenuating circumstances that may have affected their studies or exam results, please let the relevant admissions team know well ahead of their results being published so that we can take this into account if we need to on results day. This information must come from your son/daughter; we won't be able to take into account any information without their permission. There is no appeal following the publication of results.

Why choose Bristol?

There are so many reasons to study at the University of Bristol, a world-renowned institution.

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