Sports Management student, Niamh Holmes, didn’t let a few A-levels stop her from going to university. She discovered the Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE) was her stepping-stone to getting a degree that she could still complete in 3 years.
This is Niamh’s story:
Applying for a Cert HE is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After leaving school, I went straight into an apprenticeship, so I didn’t think I had the right qualifications to go to university. I thought I would have to do extra qualifications or an access course before I applied. Then I came across UA92 and their Certificate of Higher Education, which changed everything. I am now going into the last year of my degree and I’m having the best time.
Here’s 5 reasons why a Cert HE was the perfect choice for me and could be for you!
You don’t need the standard qualifications to apply for a Cert HE
I never had the opportunity to study A-Levels nor gain enough qualifications/UCAS points to make me eligible to go straight into a degree programme. Being able to do a Cert HE for my first year allowed me to join university and start studying the subject in the career path I’d like to pursue once I’ve graduated.
A Cert HE is a recognised qualification on its own
I was never fully engaged at school, and I was worried that I would be the same at uni. I didn’t want to commit to a full 3 years and hate every minute of it. A Cert HE gave me the chance to see what the course was like and decide whether I wanted to move onto the degree programme. I didn’t want to put extra pressure on myself but also didn’t want to waste my time doing a year of a degree and have nothing to show for it. The Certificate of Higher Education is a recognised level 4 qualification, so I always had the choice to leave at that point. Turns out, I really enjoyed it and opted to progress onto year 2 of the degree programme.
You are treated the same as a first-year degree student
My initial worry was that I’d be separated from the rest of the students who were on the degree course. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case at all. The Cert HE was exactly the same as studying the first year of the degree. It’s not a foundation programme – you are literally straight in as a first-year student. We had the same modules, tutors, classes… everything. My classmates had no idea I was following a different path – I think they’d have been surprised if I’d not come back for the second year.
It doesn’t add more time onto your studies – you can still get a degree in 3 years.
It’s as simple as it sounds. If you pass the CertHE, you can go straight into the second year of the degree programme. There’s no catch – you become a 2nd year degree student – so all in all you can still get a degree in 3 years. This approach saved me so much time. I thought I was going to have to go back to college to get my A-levels before I could apply to uni. If, like me, you didn’t follow the standard A-level pathway or you simply don’t meet the entry requirements for the degree – it’s always worth asking if you could be eligible for the CertHE.
The Cert HE gave me the confidence and motivation to achieve my degree.
The thought of going to university scared me. I was afraid of making new friends, not being confident enough to contribute in class and being completely out of my comfort zone. The Cert HE showed me I was capable of more than what I gave myself credit for. I have grown so much as a person (also thanks to the Character and Personal Development modules). I have so much more self-confidence and motivation to aim high and achieve more. I’ve put myself forward as a student ambassador and even modelled in a student photoshoot – things I never thought I would be brave enough to do.
So, as a final tip form me, if you are thinking about applying to uni but don’t have the standard A-level requirements, make sure you do your research. There may be a way to get started sooner than you think. And if my journey is anything to go by, you won’t regret it!