Alternatives to higher education

If you're undecided about uni or your plans have changed, there are other options after secondary education, such as apprenticeships, gap years, overseas study, and more. This page explains university alternatives.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships give you the chance to earn while you learn and gain a qualification.

They're a good way to gain the skills and experience you need for many careers. Traineeships prepare you for the future world of work. They're tailored to your needs and provide you with the experience to get an apprenticeship or job.


School leaver programmes

 There's a range of employer-led school leaver programmes available, which offer a direct route into the world of work, and may include obtaining a qualification as part of the programme.

Things to consider:

  • You need to be ready to start work.
  • You should have a clear idea of and be ready to commit to the career you want to follow.
  • It's important to find out as much as you can about the job role, the career, and the progression route the programme could lead to.

Gap years

You can gain lots of lots of skills and amazing experiences on a gap year.

They give you time to focus on what you want to do next, and can enhance your CV or higher education application,

Studying overseas

Studying in another country can be a real benefit for any student, particularly if you are thinking of a career which has international dimensions.

You can either take a whole degree at a uni abroad or include a year overseas as part of your UK degree.

Other options after secondary education 

Other options you may want to think about include studying in a different way – either in the UK or abroad or you may decide you want to go straight into the world of work.

Use UCAS' apprenticeship search to search and apply for apprenticeships, jobs, and internships, and get job alerts.

Take extra qualifications

If you think you’ll need extra qualifications to meet the entry requirements for your chosen course, speak to your school or college or look into study from home options.