Is University Higher Education or Further Education in UK?

Is University Higher Education or Further Education?
Is University Higher Education or Further Education?

After high school, it is believed that what is done gives rise to terms like higher education and further education. For those who gain admission into a university, a pertinent question they seek answer to “Is University a higher education or further education?”

So, after going through secondary education as a preparatory ground, the need to attain higher education heightens. While most students enrol in university, few attend college or focus on learning in-demand skills.

Hence, this blog post explores the concepts of higher education and further education. It also explains the key differences between the two and the advantages of both concepts.

What is higher education?

Any education you enrol in after completing secondary school or high school is termed “higher education.” This includes academic programs and courses offered by universities, colleges, and institutions of higher learning.

The primary objective of higher education is to provide advanced knowledge, specialized skills, and intellectual growth in specific fields of study. Individuals who pursue bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and other advanced certifications are said to obtain higher education.

A notable factor about higher education is its diverse disciplines, from humanities and sciences to professional fields like engineering, medicine, law, and business.

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What is Further Education?

Further education follows secondary or high school education and is typically undertaken before pursuing higher education or entering the workforce.

It encompasses many learning opportunities to develop practical skills, vocational expertise, and specialized knowledge in specific fields.

Unlike higher education, which often leads to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, further education involves shorter-term courses, certifications, and training programs.

These programs equip individuals with the practical skills and knowledge needed for specific careers or industries.

Further education can include vocational courses, apprenticeships, diplomas, certificates, and other hands-on training experiences.

It focuses on preparing individuals for specific roles in healthcare, trades, hospitality, technology, and more.

Further education aims to equip individuals with the necessary skills and qualifications to enter the workforce and contribute to their chosen careers.

It is an essential component of the education continuum, offering diverse pathways to success in the modern job market.

Is university higher education or further education?

While higher education typically refers to post-secondary education beyond high school, further education refers to learning opportunities individuals pursue after completing their compulsory education.

Higher education and further education are often used interchangeably and have distinct meanings. Higher education typically includes university degrees such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, while further education includes vocational training, adult education, and short-term courses aimed at skill enhancement.

Hence, a university degree is a higher education, while an apprenticeship is a further education.

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Is university higher education or further education in the UK?

The distinction between university and further education is quite clear in the United Kingdom. University education is generally considered higher education in the UK. It involves pursuing advanced academic degrees such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at universities.

These institutions offer comprehensive and specialized programs beyond the education level provided in secondary schools.

On the other hand, further education in the UK refers to education pursued after compulsory education but before higher education.

Further education colleges and institutions offer courses designed to provide practical skills and vocational training.

Advantages of university higher education and further education

University higher education

University education offers numerous advantages. It provides a structured learning environment that fosters intellectual growth and personal development. Students have access to expert faculty, cutting-edge research, and extensive libraries.

Also, university campuses are hubs of diversity, exposing students to various cultures and perspectives.

Further education

First, further education offers a range of advantages for individuals seeking practical skills, vocational expertise, and rapid entry into the workforce. These programs equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed for job roles.

This makes graduates immediately employable and ready to contribute effectively in their chosen professions. Unlike traditional higher education degree programs, further education courses are often shorter in duration.

This means individuals can complete their training and start working in their desired field more quickly.

Secondly, further education emphasizes hands-on training and practical skills development. Students gain real-world experience that directly applies to their chosen careers, making them valuable assets to employers.

Further education courses are also aligned with industry needs and demands, ensuring graduates possess up-to-date and applicable skills in the current job market.

Further education programs come in various formats, including part-time, evening, and online options. This flexibility allows individuals to balance their studies with work or other commitments.

Lastly, further education programs are often more affordable than pursuing a full university degree. This makes them a practical choice for individuals seeking career advancement without the financial burden of a lengthy degree program.

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What are the key differences between higher education vs. further education?

When comparing higher education and further education, key differences exist between these two learning branches. These differences encompass the nature of the programs, the types of qualifications awarded, and the intended outcomes for individuals.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between further education and higher education:

#1. Nature of programs

  • Higher Education: Higher education primarily offers degree programs such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. These educational programs prioritize extensive academic learning, analytical thinking, and investigation in particular fields. They typically offer comprehensive courses covering a wide variety of subjects in the chosen discipline.
  • Further Education: Further education includes a variety of shorter-term courses, certifications, and training programs. These programs equip individuals with practical skills and knowledge for specific job roles. They are more focused on hands-on training and preparing individuals for immediate entry into the workforce.

#2. Qualifications offered

  • Higher Education: Higher education institutions confer academic degrees, widely recognized as indicators of expertise and advanced knowledge in a particular subject. These degrees can be essential for pursuing careers that require specialized knowledge and research capabilities.
  • Further Education: Further education awards certificates, diplomas, and vocational qualifications. These credentials validate practical skills and competence in specific trades or industries, making individuals job-ready for specific roles.

#3. Duration of study

  • Higher Education: Degree programs in higher education are typically longer, often spanning three to four years for a bachelor’s degree and longer for master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • Further Education: Further education courses are generally shorter, ranging from a few weeks to a few years. These programs provide targeted training to prepare individuals for specific careers quickly.

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#4. Focus on theory vs. practical skills

  • Higher Education: Higher education emphasizes theoretical knowledge, critical analysis, and academic research. Students engage in intellectual exploration and contribute to expanding the body of knowledge in their field.
  • Further Education: Further education focuses on practical skills and hands-on training. The aim is to develop skills directly applicable to specific job roles, allowing individuals to contribute effectively to their chosen professions.

#5. Career pathways

  • Higher Education: Higher education opens doors to various career opportunities, including professions requiring advanced expertise and academic qualifications.
  • Further Education: Further education is well-suited for individuals who want to enter the workforce quickly and pursue careers in trade-specific or vocational roles.

#6. Learning environment

  • Higher Education: Higher education often occurs in universities and colleges that provide extensive resources for academic research, including libraries, laboratories, and expert faculty.
  • Further Education: Community colleges, technical institutes, and specialized training centres can offer further education that focuses on practical skill development.

Frequently asked questions

Is university education considered higher education?

University education is generally considered higher education as it offers advanced degrees beyond high school.

What is the role of further education?

Further education includes many opportunities pursued after compulsory education, such as vocational training and skill-enhancing courses.

Are practical skills or theoretical knowledge more important?

Both practical skills and theoretical knowledge have their merits, catering to different career paths and learning preferences.

What does the future hold for education?

The future of education is likely to be more personalized, flexible, and aligned with the needs of a rapidly changing world.


The distinction between higher education and further education might not be as clear-cut as it seems.

Universities provide higher education by offering advanced degrees, but the concept of further education acknowledges the continuous pursuit of knowledge throughout one’s life.

As society evolves and education adjusts, the definitions of these terms may shift over time, which means learning will be an ongoing pursuit throughout one’s life.



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