People often confuse key terms in relation to education. Common terms may have different meanings in other countries. This post will attempt to explain a number of those.

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College vs. University

Further Education vs. Higher Education

Technical Routes

College vs. University

Caribbean and North America

The terms college and university can be used interchangeably. They refer to institutions which offer degrees post the high school diploma, CSEC, CAPE and IGCSE.

United Kingdom

In the UK, college is considered Level 3 Education (A-levels, BTEC etc.). One would go to a sixth form college or further education college.

University on the other hand is an institution which offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies post obtaining Level 3 qualifications.

Further Education vs. Higher Education

Further Education

Caribbean and North America

Further Education is used to describe all post secondary school studies. All applications are made directly to your institution of choice.

Post completion of external secondary examinations, if you intend to pursue Caribbean based university level education the next move is to do your A-Levels. This could be in the form of CAPE or GCE.

Schools local to Turks and Caicos such as the British West Indies Collegiate and Turks and Caicos Community College offer A-Level courses.

United Kingdom

Further Education is considered Level 3 education in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Level 3 consists of courses post secondary level but pre-university. The most common further education route is A-Levels but it’s not the only option. There are coursework based courses like BTEC.


A-Levels are exam based courses. You can take from 3 subjects as most university courses require at least 3.

What qualifications do I need? Normally Five (5) IGCSE’s/CSECs at a minimum of grade C/4 (IGCSE) or grade 3 (CSEC). It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

BTEC Diploma

The process of obtaining this qualification is more practical in comparison to the more theory based academic A-Level.

These qualifications are available at different levels and depending on this, the diploma can be equivalent to up to three (3) A-Levels. BTECs can be taken alongside other qualifications and can permit entry to university.

What qualifications do I need? It depends on the BTEC diploma you’re pursuing. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

What if I’m over 18, want to go to university but I have no Level 3 qualifications? Access to Higher Education is your answer.

Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education aka Access to HE, is tailored for students aged 19+ who intend to apply for an undergraduate course. These courses take only one year, performing as a fast track to higher education.

Access to Higher Education courses are varied and choices range from Art to Health to Education and beyond. It is worth taking these courses as it would save you time from doing an A-Levels course or an Associates Degree which would take 2 years and reach the same goal – university.

Entry requirements differ based on the course and college you go to. Search for Access to Higher Education courses here.

Higher Education

Higher education refers all courses post Level 3 education in the UK and post secondary in the Caribbean and North America. These include undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.

Caribbean and North America

All applications to undergraduate and postgraduate courses are made directly to your university of choice.

United Kingdom

All applications to undergraduate courses are done via UCAS. UCAS throws a wealthy bunch of universities and courses at you for you to choose from.

With the copious choices given, it may make it difficult to decipher which is best for you.

To start narrowing it down we suggest you first look at the entry requirements to the course and assess your existing or predicted exam/coursework results. Next view the teaching quality at the university.

Also have a look at the modules done by the university and think on if those are relevant to your career if you’ve already chosen. Research the city the university is located to ensure you are comfortable with the prospective lifestyle.

Finally, use comparative websites like Unistats or Complete University Guide to compare course satisfaction and other statistics to make informed decisions.

What qualifications do I need? It varies per university and course but largely universities require at least 112 tariff points or grades BBC at A-Level. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS.

Some courses have foundation entry options which allows you to study a related course with significantly lower entry requirements. Various courses offer it integrated to a full Bachelors course. Otherwise it can be offered as a one year Foundation course where you would need to apply for the Bachelors course later.

Foundation courses can also be taken if you Level 3 qualification was not high enough to allow entry to Bachelors course.

All undergraduate applications are made via UCAS. You are allowed to apply to up to 5 courses. The cost of up to five courses is £24 and £18 for one course.


Postgraduate courses are searched for on UCAS. However applications are made directly to your university of choice.

What qualifications do I need? You will need an undergraduate degree. The grade required depends on the university and course you are interested in. Some postgraduate courses require you to have at least 2 years work experience.

Technical Routes


If you’re not interested in going the academic route to your career apprenticeships may be a good move forward.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship: a position as an apprentice: an arrangement in which someone learns an art, trade, or job under another – Merriam-Webster

In apprenticeships you get the chance to work in your career of interest and often people find permanent jobs with their apprenticeship employer. Your education is still important as many apprenticeship require you to have taken secondary external examinations like CSEC with various grade requirements.

A perk of apprenticeships is it is paid [salary may be minimum wage however].

Some apprenticeships in the UK offer you to gain academic qualifications alongside working and types of apprenticeships may vary. Click here to seek apprenticeships in the UK .

It is worth asking around at businesses in TCI if they offer these schemes.

Traineeships; NVQs


You may think an internship is the same as an apprenticeship. However, what makes an internship different is being paid is not compulsory.

It is worth asking around at businesses in TCI if they offer internships. Programs such as the Clinical Exploration Program provide Islanders with the opportunity to gain experience in the medical field over the summer. Having experience like this is immeasurable in value when applying for areas such as medical and social sciences.

Supported Internships

In the UK supported internships are offered to young people who want to get a job but also have learning difficulties. Extra support is offered to a recipient of this internship. Read more here.

*continuously updated
Posted by:BFTCI Author

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