Apply to the right Higher Education Institution

Did you know that in the academic year 2021-22, there were 2,182,560 students enrolled at various higher education institutions in the UK? Higher education institutions stand for excellence, opportunities, innovation, values and community — all the things you need to succeed in this competitive world.

In 2021-22, there were 295 higher education institutions registered in the UK. And applying to a reputable higher education institution in the UK can be your first step on this journey. But remember to choose the degree level, course and the higher education institution carefully. Because what you decide to study today will directly impact your career trajectory.

So, the main question is, how can you make this big career-changing decision? What are the factors and requirements that you should consider when applying to a higher education institution in the UK? Let’s find out.

Understand the UK Higher Education System

Before applying to a higher education institution in the UK, you must first understand the different programme options offered by the UK higher education system. It will help you to make an informed decision.

The UK higher education system can be categorised into three parts:

  • Undergraduate Programmes
  • Postgraduate Programmes
  • Doctoral Programmes

Undergraduate Programmes

There are various undergraduate programmes offered by higher education institutions in the UK. In 2022, UCAS, a charity and private limited company which handles all UK-based university applications, accepted 767,000 students for undergraduate courses. And pretty soon, you can be one of those students. The purpose of all these courses is to provide you with a thorough understanding of your chosen subjects, whether it is arts, science, business management, information and technology (IT), education, construction, or anything else. All the undergraduate programmes are divided into sub-categories depending on the duration of study and level of qualification.

Following are the types of undergraduate programmes offered by higher education institutions in the UK.



Foundation degree

6 months to 2 years

Higher National Certificate (HNC)

1 to 2 years

Higher National Diploma (HND)

1 to 2 years

Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE)

1 to 2 years

Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE)

1 to 2 years

Bachelor's degree

3 years (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

4 years (Scotland)

Sandwich degree

4 years (with one year in industry)

Integrated courses (a master's is provided as the first degree)

4 years

Postgraduate Programmes

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the number of postgraduate students increased by 9%, reaching 820,310 in the UK. This means that more students in this English country are now going for higher education after completing their undergraduate degree. If you are interested in pursuing a postgraduate degree from a higher education institution, there are several programmes for you to choose from. These programmes usually span 1 to 2 years and result in a master's degree. You can choose between taught programmes that focus on career-specific skills and knowledge or research-based programmes that train you to conduct independent research. Some popular postgraduate degrees in the UK include:



Postgraduate certificate and diploma (PG Cert/PG Dip)

9 to 12 months

Taught Master’s (such as MA, M.Sc., LLM, MBA, MRes)

1 year

Research Master’s (such as MPhil, PhD, DPhil)

2 to 3 years

Doctoral programmes

A doctoral programme is the highest level of academic qualification you can obtain. According to HESA, in 2021-122, more than 104,000 students were studying for doctoral research programmes in various higher education institutions in the UK. It will take you approximately three to four years to complete the programme and earn a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD). It is designed to make you an expert in your field of study.

Therefore, it’s important to learn about the different programmes the UK higher education system offers so that you can decide which course you want to study. It is also the very first step in choosing the right higher education institution.


Steps to choosing and applying to the right Higher Education Institution

Below, we have listed a simple eight-step guide to help you select and apply to a higher education institution for a thriving career.

Step 1: Be clear about the qualification you want

You must have a clear idea of the subject and the qualifications you want to pursue in higher education. This choice can significantly impact your future career, so it's important to carefully consider your options. Take the time to research the course, its duration, career prospects, and potential earnings after completing it. If you need help, consider seeking guidance from a career counsellor to make an informed decision.

Step 2: Select your chosen course from a reputable higher education institution in the UK

In the UK, different higher education institutions offer diverse levels of qualifications. You must search for an institution that offers the course you want to study. Ensure that the higher education institution in the UK you have selected is recognised and approved by prominent educational authorities like the Office for Students (OfS) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). These agencies provide valuable information about the quality of the courses each higher education institution offers and whether they align with the UK higher education system. By doing your research and making sure the institution you choose is recognised, you can feel confident that you're making a wise investment in your education.

Step 3: Learn everything about the course curriculum

Once you have decided on the higher education institutions you are interested in, you should look at their websites for a detailed explanation of the course curriculum. Go over the modules that the course will cover and check if there are any opportunities for hands-on learning during the course. This will help you get a better understanding of the course and decide if it is the right fit for you.

Step 4: See if the higher education institution offers student support

Have you considered looking into the support services offered by your higher education institution? They can be incredibly beneficial to your success as a student. These services can include academic assistance, development of study skills, student welfare, specialised support for students with disabilities, and confidential support. Joining an institution with the services you need can contribute to your overall success and enrichment.

Step 5: Look for the activities and events held by the institution

When you're looking for a good higher education institution in the UK, it's important to consider the events and resources they offer to support your learning and future career. Open days, workshops, career fairs, seminars, webinars, and lectures from industry leaders can all be valuable opportunities to learn and connect with professionals in your field. To get a sense of what's available at a particular school, check out their events section or reach out to the institution directly. And if possible, visit the campus to get a firsthand look at the resources and support available to students.

Step 6: Check for upcoming intakes for admission

Once you have done your homework on the higher education institution you plan to attend, the next step is to find out the date of the upcoming admission intake. You can find out if admissions are currently open, or if they will be opening in the coming months, by visiting the institution's website.

Step 7: Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for the course

When applying for a higher education programme, it's important to ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and any specific requirements set by the institution you're interested in. To avoid any complications during the admission process, it is important to verify that you meet all the prerequisites before applying. If you don't meet certain requirements, create a plan to address the gaps before submitting your application. By doing so, you'll increase your chances of being accepted into your preferred programme.

Step 8: Apply for the course at your desired higher education institution in the UK

Once you have found the course and the higher education institution and met the eligibility criteria, it's time to apply. To do this, you must visit the higher education institution's website and follow the specific application steps for your chosen course. For instance, to apply for a higher educational programme at GBS (Global Banking School), you can simply click on the APPLY NOW button.

The steps given above can help you to choose the right higher education institution in the UK. Remember, this decision can significantly impact your future, so each step should be given a fair amount of time and attention; only then will you be able to make an informed decision.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about applying to the right Higher Education Institution

A1: Choosing the ideal higher education institution in the UK involves a strategic approach that combines your academic aspirations with your future goals.

  1. Be very clear about the qualification you want to pursue.
  2. Research reputable institutions that offer your desired course.
  3. Review curriculum details on the institution’s website.
  4. Find out if the higher education institution provides any student support services.
  5. Explore the activities and events the higher education institution hosts to support your learning outside the classroom.
  6. Ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria for the course.
  7. Follow the application steps on the institution's website and apply.

This comprehensive approach ensures that you make a well-informed decision for future success in the classroom and your future career.

A2: You can expect a high-quality education and improved career prospects when you attend a prominent higher education institution in the UK. These institutions also provide ample networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with peers, faculty, and industry experts to develop meaningful relationships. Attending a higher education institution can provide you with the skills, insights and practical experiences needed to reach your full potential.

A3: The UK higher education system is designed to cater for students of different academic levels and aspirations. They offer various undergraduate programmes:

  • Foundation degrees
  • Higher National Certificates
  • Higher National Diplomas
  • Certificates of Higher Education
  • Diplomas of Higher Education
  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Sandwich degrees
  • Integrated courses

Postgraduate programmes are also available for those who have already completed an undergraduate degree, such as:

  • Postgraduate certificates and diplomas
  • Taught Master’s (e.g., MA, M.Sc., LLM, MBA)
  • Research Master’s (e.g., MPhil, PhD)

You also have the option to pursue doctoral programmes, the highest level of education. It usually takes 3 to 4 years to complete and leads to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. With its diverse options, the UK higher education system gives you a chance to customise your education to suit your personal career goals.

A4: GBS offers many undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Each course has different eligibility criteria depending on the level of qualification. You can explore GBS courses on our website or reach out to our dedicated team for further assistance.

A5: The Office for Students (OfS) is responsible for overseeing every single higher education institution in England. Its main focus is ensuring that you receive a quality education with excellent teaching standards and trustworthy institutions. In Scotland, higher education institutions are regulated by the Scottish Funding Council, while in Wales, they are overseen by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). In Northern Ireland, regulation is managed by the Department for the Economy. GBS operates under the approval of both the OfS and QAA for offering higher education in the UK.

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