Doing an HE course at College versus university

Posted by Lucy Chakaodza on 14-Oct-2015 09:32:43


Are you thinking of doing a Higher Education course?

These days a traditional campus uni need not always be the first option when deciding to study for a degree.

Many Further Education (FE) colleges like City and Islington College now offer a number of HE qualifications such as foundation and undergraduate degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, part-time professional Certificates and Diplomas in conjunction with partner universities.

So although you will end up getting a degree no matter where you study, let’s take a look at how each type of Institute differs:

Types of courses on offer

Along with traditional academic courses, FE colleges such as ours offer a diverse range of courses - usually less traditionally ‘academic’ courses on anything from basic skills, vocational subjects and apprenticeships to A-levels, BTECs and more. At university students tend to study for more formal undergraduate and graduate qualifications.

Student experience

At a university there’s likely to be more opportunities to socialise and get involved with clubs and societies than at an FE college. Many colleges like City and Islington have student unions and run many clubs, societies and extra-curricular sporting activities as well as volunteering opportunities; in addition, there are so many social activities on offer for students in and around the Islington area.


As to be expected, universities have a much larger student population than colleges. The benefit of studying at a college like ours is the size of the classes, which are much smaller. Students will experience more quality contact time with their tutors.


Although there may not be many university professors at an FE college, the quality of tutors teaching a degree course at an FE college tends to be delivered on the same level. There is a strong likelihood that some tutors will teach across both types of institution.


Do employers prefer a degree from a university outright rather than through an FE college?  It depends. If you have worked hard and have supplemented your degree with extracurricular activities, this will boost your CV. Your performance at the interview stage will usually determine whether you land your dream position!

City and Islington offer a number of Foundation degrees that are vocational in nature.  The benefit of this is that students get a taste of real working life during any placements attached to their course and as well as developing practical skills and gain valuable contacts in the world of work.


If living at home and studying nearby is top of your list, then there’s likely to be an FE college like City and Islington offering university courses near you. It may not have the feel of a big-city uni, but you will still get the buzz and activity of being in the heart of the big city right here in London!

Universities UK say that many FE colleges have delivered degree-level higher education successfully for a number of years. And there have been a number of long-standing partnerships between FE colleges and universities to provide high quality programmes.

Partnerships, such as ours between London Metropolitan and City University London, provide critical resources and services for students, and deliver outstanding results for local economies and local employers.

It’s important to stress that all Higher Education courses face the same rigorous checks and audits say Universities UK.  Our college was the first further education college in London to successfully undergo the new Review of College Higher Education by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

The Association of Colleges state that many students are part-time and choose college study as it is near their home, reducing their living expenses – some colleges are simply the 'local' university for their town.

Colleges like ours provide a unique learning environment, which often means continuity for students and offer an extremely supportive learning environment.


Topics: Higher Education