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Life in a UK College

The British Education System

To study at a state Sixth Form College in the UK, you must be between the ages of 16 and 18 years old at the time of enrolment. You can choose to study at a college based in England, Wales or Scotland. The curriculum and style of learning differs between the countries, so read on to learn about what options you have depending on what you hope to achieve during your time on exchange.

College students at the beach

England & Wales

Both England and Wales follow a similar education system:

  • A-Level and AS-Level qualifications.
  • Study up to 3 subjects.
  • Traditional and more unusual subjects available.
  • Programs available from a few weeks to 2 years. Qualifications only available on 1 or 2 year program.
  • International Baccalaureate available at select colleges.
  • Learning is more university style, combining lessons and personal learning.
  • Timetable has free time for study.
  • Leave with a world recognised qualification.
College students studying


Scotland follows a different qualification system to England and Wales.

  • Choose to study a NC, HNC or HND (depending on your age and experience with the subject).
  • Courses are one or two years in length.
  • Choose 1 course that will be your focus for the year. A course contains many subject areas within it.
  • Ideal for students with an idea of what they hope to choose as a career.
  • A variety of options available e.g. engineering, childcare, business, design, nursing, music, drama.
  • Leave with a world recognised qualification.
College students doing kareoke

Life in College

As a college student, you will be treated as an adult, learning on a campus with people of all ages and studying a variety of courses and levels.

  • Attend college when you have scheduled lessons.
  • Access to state of the art equipment and facilities.
  • Be taught by the leading teachers in their field.
  • Access extra curricular activities in STEM, languages, Sport, Art and Design, Drama and Music and much more.
  • Join a sporting academy and be taught by professional athletes and compete at an elite level.
  • Meet your college friends for study time or catch up in the campus coffee shops.
  • Use the campus gym or tour the local towns and cities.
Personal Support

Students will be supported locally by the college International team. They will manage all issues including homesickness or issues with your host family placement. Students will have regularly scheduled meetings with the team to monitor their progress personally and academically.

The International team will also arrange the induction process to make sure you know where to be and what you have access to at the college and can make the most of your time. The International team will also arrange activities for students to participate in so that you can meet more people and see the local sights. They are also available 24/7 for emergency matters that need urgent attention.

Academic Support

Your college will ensure that you have access to an Academic Tutor who will monitor your progress throughout your time on exchange. They will be able to assist you with any academic issues that you have. If you wish to change a subject, then the staff will assist you to do this (as long as it is not too late in the exchange and space is available on your new course.)

For students who wish to improve their English, colleges also offer additional English Language classes to support your academic progress. Classes are included at some colleges, while other charge an additional fee. This is a great way to improve your language skills in the classroom and make it easier for you to access the curriculum.

Subject Choices

Every college in the UK offers a wide variety of subject choices for students to access. Whether you want to pursue the more traditional subjects or have a passion for a specific area, MyEducation will be able to recommend the colleges that provide the courses you want. Below is a list of just some of the subject choices that are available to applicants and there are many more available too.

  • Maths
  • Further Maths
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Science
  • Civil Engineering
  • Business
  • Architectural Technology
  • Engineering
  • Computing
  • Ancient History
  • Modern History
  • Geography
  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Law
  • Sociology
  • Health, Social Care & Childcare
  • Audio & Media
  • French
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Latin
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Classical Civilisation
  • Religious Studies
  • Criminology
  • Production Arts
  • Extended Project Qualification
  • Dance
  • Theatre Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Drama & Theatre
  • Art & Design
  • Fine Art
  • Fashion & Textiles
  • Physical Education
  • Photography
  • Graphic Communication

Extra-Curricular Activities and Academies

Students are encouraged to engage in extra-curricular activities outside of their academic life. This allows young people to relax, have fun, exercise and balance their work and social life. These clubs are a great way to meet new people and stay active and busy. There is something for everyone and skill is not something that affects your ability to join in.

Colleges offer many student-led and college-led clubs and activities for students to join. Often colleges run a Freshers Week to highlight what is available to join for new students. Examples include:

  • Hockey
  • Choir
  • Band / Orchestra
  • Table Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • Student Council
  • Yoga
  • Dance Company

Academies are established to support talented students in a variety of areas. Students with specific skills and ability can join and gain expert training.

  • Rugby
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Basketball
  • Netball
  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Aspire – for students wishing to apply to Russell Group universities
  • Dance
  • Performing Arts
  • Esports

Tuition + Accommodation fees start from || 4 – 8 weeks: £3,000 || Term: £7,000 || Semester: £9,500 || 1 year: £12,500 || 2 years: £25,000