Alternatives to Full-Time Study

Whether it’s time, money, or one of the dozens of other potential obstacles, full-time study isn’t always the best option for those looking to earn a degree. If you’re facing this problem, then worry not; there are plenty of other ways of studying at degree and other levels.

Alternatives to full-time study aren’t restricted to school-leavers; they’re open to older people returning to education, those who were unsuccessful in obtaining a full-time university place, or those who simply decided to take a break and not attend university straight away.

NOTE: If you are planning to re-apply to universities, UCAS do not allow you to re-use a previous application form and normally you must re-start the application process from the beginning, including paying the application fee.

Read through our guide to the alternatives to full-time study, or jump to the option you’re looking for:

Studying part-time

A large number of the full-time degree courses offered by universities and colleges can also be undertaken on a part-time basis, allowing you to fit your study around other commitments.

Search for part-time courses on our course chooser.

Distance learning

Distance learning study, by its very nature, is usually also part-time study. For more information on distance learning, look here.

Search for distance learning courses on CUG's course chooser.

Foundation degree courses

Although similar in name, foundation degrees are not the same as the foundation year that can be taken at the beginning of an undergraduate degree.

Foundation years are taken at the beginning of some undergraduate degree courses to provide an appropriate academic background for degree-level entry, whereas foundation degrees are university-level qualifications designed to equip students for a particular area of work. This is often done with the support of employers from that sector, combining academic study with work-place learning.

Read college profiles or search for foundation-level courses.

Taking a gap year

Some students decide to take a year out before starting university. Find out more about gap years here.

Degree apprenticeships

Engineering apprentice
Engineering is just one of the many fields in which
degree apprenticeships can be taken

Degree apprenticeships are a relatively new initiative, having only been announced in 2015. The aim of a Degree apprenticeship is, as the name suggests, to combine the academic aspects of a university degree with the practical experience and application of an apprenticeship.

Although they are primarily targeted at school leavers aged 18-19, degree apprenticeships are also suitable for 16 to 18-year-olds and mature students, including those who have already completed a lower-level apprenticeship and wish to enhance their career prospects through further study.

As with other apprenticeships, the training costs and student fees will be covered by the government and your employer. Degree apprentices are not eligible for student loans, and you must therefore cover your own living costs. However, with the opportunity to earn up to £500 per week as part of the scheme, you will be receiving financial support of some form.

The majority of degree apprenticeships focus on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), however there are others available. The full list available is as follows:

A number of high-profile, high-ranking institutions offer degree apprenticeships. To apply for one, visit employer websites or search and apply through the government’s official apprenticeship service.

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