In a world of endless opportunity, many of us struggle to decide which career will be the one to suit us. It can be a daunting prospect for all, and even if you have an idea of what you want to do, choosing the right course to land that dream job provides a headache of its own.

When you are studying for your A Levels, the thought of getting a UCAS application submitted for the January deadline comes into focus about an hour after you’ve finished your Christmas dinner. It’s not easy to map out your entire future at 17 or 18 years old, and it is becoming more and more common for people to reach a stage later in their life when they decide the job they thought they wanted to do is no longer for them.

Switching careers has become much easier with the rise of online education and distance learning. But choosing a course that fits your interests can be just the ticket. So, should you be sticking with the traditional bachelor’s degree, or could a foundation degree open the same doors?

Here, we’ll take a look at why foundation degrees are a viable option, whether you are a first-time degree applicant, or changing career for the second, third, or even fourth time.

What is a foundation degree?

A foundation degree is a two-year course which combines academic and vocational elements which are equivalent to two thirds of an honours bachelor’s degree. They are often delivered by universities and colleges in partnership with employers, offering students an alternative career path.

The rise of apprenticeships through foundation degrees has resulted in students working on live projects in real working environments to gain relevant experience in their industry. And many educational institutions will actually offer a top-up course which allows students to complete an additional year of study to develop their foundation degree into a full honours degree.

Holly Old opted for a foundation degree, studying Musical Theatre at Newcastle College, and said that having local access to the course made her decision much easier.

She added: “The facilities at the College were second-to-none. I visited a lot of Universities and nobody compared in terms of it being a true-to-life environment.

“Newcastle College is the best training you can possibly get outside of London. I chose to do the Musical Theatre Foundation Degree because I wasn’t ready to move away. I decided to stay at Newcastle College for two years and then study my top-up at the London School of Musical Theatre.”


What are the benefits of a foundation degree?

With the majority of foundation degree courses geared towards industry-specific work, a student can get a proper insight into the career they have aspired to work in since childhood. At Newcastle College, 45 foundation degrees are offered, from business management through to rail engineering.

Most foundation degrees offer flexible study, with courses allowing learners to either opt for full- or part-time study, which means those with work or family commitments are still able to complete the course.

The opportunity to put learning into practice while continuing with your studies is a big plus for many who choose a foundation degree. Gaining transferable skills that employers seek will inevitably lead to better career prospects further down the line. Often graduates miss out on jobs because of a lack of work experience, but that can be avoided with the foundation degree.

The costs

The thought of going to university can be unnerving for prospective students, whether they are targeting a first degree, or jumping back into academic life to pursue a change in career. One of the main concerns is about the financial implications and what costs will be associated with a degree.

If you are taking on a degree alongside your work, you might even be able to get financial support from your employer, who will probably see it as an investment in both yours, and the company’s future.

Studying a foundation degree still comes with the same financial support options that other higher education students have access to, with student loans, maintenance grants and bursaries all worth checking out. Be aware though that all of these will depend on your individual, or family, circumstances, so entitlements will vary between students.

Getting the best of both worlds

A fear of the unknown, combined with financial concerns, can be off-putting when considering a switch in careers. But the foundation degree route offers the best of both worlds — you are investing in new skills and discovering at an early stage if it is the right career path for you.

A recent report by PensionBee found that just 16% of UK workers felt they were doing something they saw as their calling, with a further 34% claiming they “fell into” their current roles. A foundation degree allows you to pick a sector you have a passion for and gain worthwhile experience alongside your learning, which makes that drastic career switch a bit less stressful.

You’ll even gain a real insight into whether that is the path for you, rather than getting to the end of a bachelor’s degree to find you don’t like the sector you’ve been studying. Courses range across all industries, from nursing, to law and accountancy, to engineering and culinary arts, meaning that there is something for everyone.

Leave a comment:

Please leave a comment below:

Log in to your FE News account to continue the debate and help share best practice and innovation in the FE sector.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 5 hours 8 minutes ago

AAT Will Story

AAT Stories discovers the real people and heroes of AAT and the accountancy profession. These stories shine a light on our students and members that...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page