Generally speaking school leavers have 3 types of courses that they can choose to study when they leave school. The best choice for you will depend on how you best learn, how you like to be graded and where you want to learn. These courses are:

Each offer a range of benefits, which you can read more about by clicking on the links above, however when deciding which one is right for you it is worth considering the following:

How do you study best?

*Not offered by Eastleigh College.

The different course types are all available at the same levels, however it is sometimes difficult to go from an AS-Level to a level 3 Technical and Professional course, or an Advanced Apprenticeship, as these courses require you to have relevant 'hands-on', practical knowledge, which you will not get from an Academic study programme. The below career ladder indicates the different course levels and how they compare:

Technical and Professional Level  Academic Level Apprenticeship Level
 Level 6 Bachelor Degree Higher (level 6) 
 Level 5 Foundation Degree / HNC / HND Higher (level 5) 
 Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education Higher (level 4) 
 Level 3 A-Levels  Advanced 
 Level 2 GCSEs Intermediate


What is an Award, Certificate or Diploma?

The use of the expressions 'Award', 'Certificate' and 'Diploma' has no bearing on the complexity/challenge of a qualification, it simply indicates the size (volume of learning). These can be at any level.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine paid employment with recognised accredited learning tailored to the job. An apprentice will have a job and also be studying towards the relevant qualifications for that Apprenticeship. Programmes also include functional skills in maths, English and in some cases IT.

What is a Traineeship?

 A traineeship is a training programme which combines unpaid work experience with college-based learning. Its aim is to help prepare learners with little work experience for an Apprenticeship or full time job, and is only available to those qualified below level 3. Eastleigh College runs several cohorts per academic year, with starts throughout the year.

What about National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)?

An NVQ is a competency based assessment which means it is very practical and assesses your competency within a particular vocation or job role.

What are work-based learning qualifications?

Work based learning offers flexible qualifications that you can undertake within your organisation. You may be eligible for government funding to complete either a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification. Learners must be in employment and the course must be agreed by the employer.

My chosen course doesn't state the qualification type?

Eastleigh College also runs specific vocational, academic and short courses which follow their own progression routes and may not fit into the categories above. An example may be the frameworks for Higher Education qualifications, that describe the achievement represented by completion of the qualification e.g. BA (Honours) Counselling Degree.

If you need help deciding on what level is right for you, please contact the Information, Advice and Guidance team on 023 8091 1299.


*Not available at Eastleigh College

Want to find out more or have a question on any of the courses we offer?

We can help you make the right career decision for you. Contact the team for any help and guidance using the form below

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