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A to Z

Advanced Learning Loan
Help with the costs of a course at a college or training provider for people aged 24 or older Learner Loans .
A payment to help low income students cover the costs of studying, usually linked to doing a particular career or type of course, or for a specific item of expenditure (such as a residential bursary). Bursaries do not usually have to be paid back.
Discretionary Learner Support
Money available to learners aged over 19 on a further education courses who are facing financial hardship
Fee waiver
Where your fees (or part of them) are paid by the provider if you meet their criteria.
A payment to help you cover the cost of studying. Grants do not have to be paid back. Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS). Provides information and advice on sources of funding.
Family Action website
Maintenance Loan
Money that a learner can borrow through the government to cover the costs of being a HE student (for example accommodation and living costs).
Merit Award
Financial payment made by a university for those who excel in Entrance Scholarship examinations.
Residential Support Scheme
Supports people to cover the costs of study away from home if the course you want to do is not available locally (depending on your household income).
Residential support on website
Funding directly from universities for higher education students. The eligibility criteria varies. Scholarship search facility allows you to search for scholarships by institution, subject or key words.
Scholarship search website
Student finance calculator
Tool to allow you to calculate student loans and extra student funding, e.g. if you’re disabled or have children.
Student finance calculator on website
Tuition Fee
Money that a learner pays to a university or college to cover their course
Tuition Fee Loan
Money that a learner can borrow through the government to cover their HE course fees
Additional Learning Support
Used to describe the support learners can receive from colleges and adult education providers to enable them to succeed on their course, for example support for disabled learners or those with a specific learning disability.
The process of students getting accepted to study at a college or university.
Former students who have completed their courses.
Appraisal of your skills to see if you meet a required standard.
Used to describe the collection of buildings and facilities available to students in one location.
The central system in July-September whereby potential students who have not been offered a place following application to higher education via UCAS can apply to institutions which have vacant places.
Clearing on UCAS website
Conditional offer
An offer of a place on a course which is subject to you meeting certain conditions (usually achievement of certain grades in examinations).
Meaning you meet the conditions or entry to a course and have a place.
Education provider
Institutions or organisations that offer education and training
Functional skills
Usually refers to basic maths, English and ICT skills.
Further Education
Education in the non-compulsory phase beyond the age of 16.
Higher education
Education at university level (Level 4+), including undergraduate courses.
A term applied to education providers.
League tables
Published information which ranks education providers (can be for institutions as a whole or for courses and departments).
University League Tables website
Learning provider
Institutions or organisations that offer education and training
Mature student
Applies to students who start course after the age of 21.
A unit or a part of an overall learning programme.
In an education environment orientation is the support offered to help new students settle-in, such as a campus tour.
Pastoral care
Support whilst you are studying to promote your welfare. This includes advice in relation to your well-being, and can include help with any issues you might have such as accommodation, finances and health.
Professional bodies
An organisation that represents a particular profession. Members are individual professionals in that field of work. They often provide advice about entry to the profession.
A brochure which gives information on courses offered and facilities in order to help prospective students make a decision. Many university and college prospectuses are available online as a link from their websites.
Refers to the process of formally enrolling with an institution to undertake a course of study.
Secondary education
In England refers to the stage of compulsory education during the ages 11 to 16.
Where a small group meet to have a discussion or debate.
Study Skills
The skills needed by learners to succeed on their programme of learning
Study Support
The help a learner receives to help them study successfully
Parts of the academic year (usually each year is divided into autumn term, spring term and summer term with holidays in between).
UCAS Tariff
UK qualifications which are generally accepted for higher education entry have a points score (called a tariff) awarded by UCAS. Often higher education institutions publish the entry requirements using this.
Tariff on UCAS website
Unconditional offer
An offer of a place whereby you do not have to meet any conditions.
Refers to courses in a programme of study leading to a first degree, at higher education level.
Undergraduate student
Students on courses leading to a first degree, at higher education level.
Discrete periods of study on a specific subject (often as part of modular courses) which when combined together form a complete course of study.
Describes practical, work-related training courses
Work experience
Spending time in a work environment to get an introduction to the industry
Association of Colleges
Not-for-profit membership organisation set up by colleges to act as their collective voice.
Association of Colleges website
Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE).
A type of status given to departments in further education colleges and training companies to show quality of vocational teaching.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
The professional body for Human Resources and people development.

Provides online access to education courses, in partnering with global universities and organisations.
Owned by The Open University and offering free courses on a wide range of topics in partnership with over 90 UK and international universities and institutions, the British Council, the British Library and the British Museum.
Digital learning platform which provides access to courses from institutions across Europe for higher education and professional development which are engaging, interactive and fun.
Provides skills, training and employment services.
Learndirect website
Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD)
Major health and welfare charity. Largest charity in the UK and also operates internationally supporting people with disabilities. LCD also has a strong focus on Carers.
Leonard Cheshire Disability website
National Careers Service
Provides information, advice and guidance across England to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities.
National Careers Service
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
Umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector in England.
NCVO website
National Extension College (NEC)
Not for profit organisation providing distance learning for people of all ages.
NEC website
Learning and Work Institute
Educational charity dedicated to promoting adult learning.
NIACE website
National Union of Students (NUS)
A voluntary membership organisation which supports students and member students' unions.
NUS website
Open University
Offers flexible part-time study, supported distance and open learning.
Open University website
Provides free access to learning materials such as expert blogs, and interactive content, from The Open University.
OpenLearn website
Social Partnership Network (SPN)
A network consisting of 10 national organisations who all have a focus on adult learners, a firm commitment to widening access and social inclusion and national scale and reach, with the combined potential to reach over seven million people.
SPN website
Students’ Union
The body within a university or college which represents students' welfare, and organises student clubs and societies.
Trade Union Congress
TUC Education is the TUC's training organisation for workplace reps and union officers.
The central body which manages a system used to apply for many higher education courses (full-time undergraduate degrees, Foundation Degrees, BTEC HND, DipHE).
UCAS website
National agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills.
NARIC website
The learning and skills organisation of the TUC, which works to assist unions in the delivery of learning opportunities for their members.
UnionLearn website
Trade union representing staff who provide public services in the public and private sector.
UNISON website
Website which allows you to compare subjects, universities and colleges. Provides a range of ratings including levels of student satisfaction and graduate job entry rates.
Workers Educational Association (WEA)
An educational charity (the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education).
WEA website
Entry level
Entry Level courses are good for people with no qualifications. These can help you to improve on your reading, writing and IT skills.
Foundation Year
An extra introductory year to prepare for university, increase your knowledge, and to improve confidence and study skills (sometimes called 'Year 0').
HE Entry courses
These courses provide a stepping-stone into higher education.
Access to HE website
Leisure courses
Leisure courses are mainly for fun and with no formal entry requirements. These courses are good for people who want to learn something new or start a new hobby.
Level 1
These courses are for people who are new to a subject. They will improve your basic knowledge.
Levels on website
Level 2
This is an intermediate level of study and can provide a route into a career, or be a route to further study at more advanced levels.
Levels on website
Level 3
Level 3 qualifications are advanced level and a step on from the qualifications gained at school. Many different qualifications are at this level including A levels, BTECs and NVQs.
Levels on website
Level 4+
Courses at level 4+ are university degree level study.
Levels on website
Lifelong Learning Account
A place to store items such as your CVs, action plans and course searches.
National Careers Service website
Personal Learning Record
A place for you to store details of your learning and qualifications.
Personal Learning on NCS website
A term used to describe courses which have a focus on ideas and theory.
Access course
Designed for students who want to do a degree but do not yet meet the requirements to enter most universities.
Access to HE search website
Access to HE Diploma
A course to prepare for study in higher education available in a range of different subjects.
Access to HE search website
Accreditation of Prior Learning
A way in which a university may offer a learner the opportunity to enter a higher education programme at the level appropriate to their previous learning and experience. This means a learner may be exempt from certain parts of a course.
Advanced Apprenticeship
A form of vocational learning in the workplace combining a technical certificate and functional skills (equivalent to two A level passes).
Advanced-Apprencticeships website ,
Apprenticeship Recruitment website
Advanced level (A-Level)
A common grade of education offered by schools and colleges.
A-Levels website ,
A-Levels on HotCourses website
Advanced Supplementary level (AS-Level)
Qualifications which are usually obtained in year one of a two year A-level programme.
A-Levels website ,
A-Levels on HotCourses website
Refers to courses which have a practical rather than theoretical focus.
An apprenticeship combines work and training, letting you ‘earn while you learn’. In the UK you can apply for an apprenticeship if you’re over 16 and not in full-time education.
Apprenticeships on website
Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network
A curriculum development organisation and awarding body offering programmes and qualifications that develop skills for learning, employment and skills for life.ASDAN
Bachelor Degrees – BA (Hons)
A common higher education qualification.
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Awarded for successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in Arts.
Bachelor of Education (BEd)
Awarded for successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in education.
Bachelor of Engineering (BEng)
Awarded for successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
Bachelor of Science (BSc)
Awarded for successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in science.
BTEC Diploma
Career-related courses (including in engineering, art and design, agriculture, and health and social care) which support people in jobs at supervisory or technician level.
Certificate of Higher Education
A higher education qualification usually awarded for one year of full-time study – normally 120 credits of Level 4 study.
Computer Literacy And Information Technology
An internationally recognised course that shows employers you can use the main applications on a computer.CLAiT
Continuing Professional Development
A process to manage your personal and professional development on an ongoing basis which helps you to reflect on what you learn and how to apply new skills and knowledge.
Where a credit value is given to completing a study module, or based on your skills and experience. Credits usually can be transferred, and the system is designed to acknowledge small pieces of learning.
The most common qualification awarded at higher education level. Most degrees awarded are Honours degrees.
Digital Badge
Digital badges are a new way of demonstrating online learning and that you have gained a skill or acquired certain knowledge.Digital Badge
Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
A qualification awarded for two years of degree-level study. These are normally 240 credits of Level 4 and Level 5 study.
English for Speakers of Other Languages
Courses for students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English, and who need support in the English language and their academic course.
European Computer Driving License
A Europe-wide qualification in basic computer skills.
Family learning
Learning that takes place among family members and friends, including parents, grandparents and carers.
Foundation course
Usually a one-year course designed to bring students up to a level to start on a bachelor degree
Foundation Degrees
Two-year undergraduate degrees which usually have a vocational focus and include both academic study and a period of work experience.
General Certificate of Education (GCE)
A general term for A levels.
General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)
Recognised qualification in specific subjects which signify level 1 or 2 achievement depending on grades achieved. GCSEs are predominately studied by 14-16 year olds at school.
Higher Apprenticeship
A form of vocational learning in the workplace which can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree.
Apprenticeships on website
Higher National Certificate (HNC)
A vocational higher education qualifications, often studied part-time.
Higher National Diploma (HND)
A vocational higher education qualifications, often studied part-time.
Honours degree
Awarded for successful completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Intermediate Apprenticeship
A form of vocational learning in the workplace combining a technical certificate and functional skills (equivalent to 5 GCSE passes).
Apprenticeships on website
International Baccalaureate (IB)
The IB diploma is an alternative to A-levels usually taken over 2 years.
International GCSEs (IGCSEs)
GCSE programmes targeted at overseas students.
Joint degree
A degree which covers more than one subject. It can also be referred to as a combined degree.
Online interactive courses offered by the universities and entities which support personal and professional development. MOOC
National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)
Work-based qualifications designed to give you the skills needed for a particular job. Because these qualifications are normally assessed in the workplace you will need to have a job or access to a workplace.
Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE)
National Awarding Organisation.
Open course
Courses using interactive content, for students in an online learning community.
Online portal which gives you access to free learning from The Open University
Ordinary degree
Usually refers to a degree which is awarded to students that completed the full degree course but did not require the level of an honours degree.
Open University Access Module
30 week course to prepare you for study at university-level with The Open University.
Access on The Open University website
A compilation of academic work and other forms of educational evidence assembled for the purpose of evidencing achievement or showing progress towards learning goals
Professional qualifications
These are qualifications which are awarded by a professional body. Examples include the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
Professional qualifications on Wikipedia
Qualification Credit Framework (QCF)
Credit transfer system based on learning units which have a credit value.
QCF website
Skills for Life Qualifications
These qualifications develop essential skills which are useful in training, education, work or everyday life. Examples include Certificate in Adult Literacy, Certificate in Adult Numeracy and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).
The Diploma for Progression
A qualification which is a stepping stone to an Access to HE programme or other Level 3 course.
Access to HE search website
A course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship.
Unclassified degree
Usually refers to a degree which is awarded to students that completed the full degree course but did not require the level of an honours degree.
Blended learning
Combines face-to-face sessions with online learning.
Distance learning
Study which is undertaken remotely, meaning you can learn in your own time, and wherever you choose. Distance learning usually involved using a range of materials, and includes regular support from a tutor. You will be able to interact with other students (for example via email and online forums). There may also be the chance to attend day schools or residential weekends in order to work with other students.
Flexible adult education
Usually involves attending a college or adult education centre at times agreed to suit you. You study using a computer-based learning package or tuition pack with tutors on hand to help you.
Flexible learning
The course is spread overtime to suit you which allows you to balance the course content with family life and working.
Formal learning
Learning which is delivered by trained teachers as part of a structured programme.
Informal learning on OECD website
Full time
A course that would take up a full timetable at college or university. There may be no set hours for a full time course but you would expect it to be a major focus of your time and energy.
Informal learning
Usually refers to non-accredited learning.
Informal learning on OECD website
Modular courses
Consists of more than one independent unit. Students can usually choose which modules they take, which means they can study different topics within their subject area.
Non-formal learning
A structured opportunity for learning, which can be community-based, which does not have a formal curriculum or system of accreditation.
Non-formal learning on OECD website
Online learning
Delivering learning opportunities through the internet.
Open learning
Study involving a range of methods such as home study, group study or visits to a resource centre and face-to-face tuition.
Part time
A course that can be taken alongside other programmes of study or alongside other commitments. There may be no set hours for a part time course but you would expect it to offer you more free time than a full time programme.
Sandwich course
A course that includes a period of work experience. Typically three year sandwich courses include work experience in the second year.
Work-based learning
Learning which incudes developing skills in the workplace, usually focusing on the skills needed to do a particular job.
Adult Education provider
Institutions that offer programmes of study specifically for adults. Organisations include Universities, FE Colleges, Community Colleges, online or distance learning providers and specialist providers such as the WEA and the University of the Third Age. Includes informal learning opportunities through community venues such as libraries and children's centres as well as formal, accredited learning.
College of Further Education
These provide technical and professional education and training for young people, adults and employers.
Provide practice-based music courses, and dance and drama courses,
Private provider
Not predominately funded through public means.
Russell Group
An association of UK universities (currently 24 members) which have a strong research focus and which are considered by some as the most prestigious institutions.
Russell Group website
The Third Sector
General term for the voluntary and not-for-profit sector.
Third Sector website
Training Provider
Generally refers to organisations that provide training, which could include public and private organisations, including those who provide training in the workplace.
UK Online Centres
A network of 5,000 local centres which help people use new technology.
UK Online Centres website
Provides higher education
University College
Usually refers to a higher education institution which has not got it's own degree awarding powers.