You don’t have to go straight from school to college to university. There are lots of different routes you can take to get there. Top universities across the country are accepting applications from students with a whole range of experience and academic achievements. University isn’t just an option for A Level students – most courses understand the need for practical ability and real-world understanding of work and life experience.

University doesn’t have to start straight away, either. A growing number of students are people who are returning to education after a break to gain that all-important work and life experience. Some take a gap year or internship before applying, adding initiative and confidence to their growing skillset. Some return after years or decades after leaving education to upskill, retrain or follow a passion.


You may be looking to return to education having never studied at Further or Higher Education levels before or looking to retrain into a new subject or career having gone down a different path earlier in your journey.

For people in these situations there are a few pathways to University, two such pathways are Access and Foundation courses.  An Access course is usually studied at a Further Education college whilst Foundation courses often are delivered at universities, depending on your circumstances either could be suitable routes if you are unable to jump straight in to undergraduate study either due to not being able to meet the entry criteria or just feel unprepared to do so.


Access courses are designed to prepare people without traditional qualifications for higher education study. They help students learn the best techniques for learning in lecture and workshop environments, how to produce successful essays, projects and presentations as well as utilising university libraries efficiently.

Many are designed and accredited by universities but delivered by further education colleges. However, some universities, such as the Open University, deliver them as well.
More information can be found here –


Sometimes referred to as ‘Year Zeros’, Foundation courses are specialist one-year courses that enable students to build up their skills and knowledge in a chosen subject before tackling a full undergraduate degree. This is a popular route into university for students who are completely changing their career path, or would like to head to university but haven’t studied the subject they’re interested in at an Advanced level before.


As a mature learner you may have increased responsibilities like dependants (be they adult or child) which could make the decision whether to pursue Higher Education one complicated by concerns about finance. Support for people in this situation is available in the form of a Childcare Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance or Adult Dependants Grant. These are paid in addition to your main student finance and don’t usually have to be paid back.

More information can be found here

Where To Go For More Information

If you have any questions or want advice you can get in touch.

If you have any questions or want advice you can get in touch.

Events & Activities

At Future U, we to offer a variety of outreach events and activities which are delivered by our central team and by our partners.


Please select Activities to view the range of talks and workshops that are available to book ad-hoc. Many activities can be delivered in school or virtually, are free of charge and are aligned to the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance.


Select Events to see find upcoming dates for university visit days, competitions, residentials and more.