The Raising of the Participation Age means at the end of year 11 you will need to continue in education or training until at least your 18th birthday.

Your options at 18 are to:

Higher Education

There are a wide variety of higher education courses. These include: Degrees; Higher National Diplomas/Certificates; Foundation Degrees and Diplomas/Certificates of Higher Education.

Higher education courses vary in length from one to five years. You can study these at: University; Colleges of Further & Higher Education and Open University.

You can choose between studying academic (e.g. maths, history, French) or vocational subjects (e.g. nursing, computing, law). You can study a single subject or a combination of subjects. Combinations of subjects can allow you to study both academic and vocational subjects.

Funding: You can apply to Student Finance for tuition fees and maintenance loans. Some Higher Education institutions offer bursaries.

Enter the world of work


Give you the opportunity to combine on the job training with studying for a qualification. Apprenticeships are available from Intermediate (Level 2), Advanced (Level 3) up to Higher & Degree (Levels 4, 5, 6 & 7). It usually takes between one and four years to complete an apprenticeship depending on the level taken.

 Apprenticeships are available across a wide range of industries and many prestigious companies offer them (popular examples include: Jaguar Land Rover; BT; John Lewis; KPMG; National Grid, etc.)t Finance for tuition fees and maintenance loans. Some Higher Education institutions offer bursaries.


Job opportunities are available for young people. Aim for jobs that provide training and learning opportunities to enable career progression.


Gap Year

If you are not sure what you want to do or want to take some time out for personal development, a ‘Gap Year’ can provide you with the opportunity to gain experience and develop your employability skills. It is important to spend this time postively (e.g. travel; working abroad or in the UK; volunteering, etc.)

Most universities and employers view a year out as a beneficial experience, as long as the time has been used constructively.

Voluntary Work / Internships

This can provide you with direct experience of working in a particular role and can help you decide what type of career you want. These experiences can last for anything from a few weeks to a year, depending on the employment sector and organisation.