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A guide to fe qualifications

A guide to Further Education qualifications

Further education is extremely confusing – there are hundreds of qualifications, with different names at different levels - not to mentions dozens of abbreviations: it's not easy to navigate through the jargon. What we’ve tried to do here is create a table that makes sense (to us anyway) with a useful link to more information. Each FE course is categorised by a level – e.g. Level 1, Level 2 etc., which makes it easies to compare vocational qualifications alongside conventional A-Levels, for example, and enables you to work out exactly where you should be looking to begin. You will be able to see at a glance which qualifications you need to start on each course by looking at the table below. Once you know which level you're likely to start at, you can begin to research a course that you're interested in to see whether it's available at your local college and at your starting level.


Course Level

Qualifications Available

Usual Entry Requirements

Entry Level Courses

Entry requirements will slightly differ because entry level courses don't lead to recognised qualifications. Instead, entry level courses, suitable for those with no or very few formal qualifications, aim to supply the skills, knowledge and abilities to give people the step up onto Level 1 courses.

Level One

NVQ level 1

GCSEs at grades F and G

Foundation Diploma

Level Two

NVQ Level 2

GCSEs at grades D and E

Higher Diploma



Satisfactory pass at NVQ Level 1 or Foundation Diploma

Level Three

BTEC National Certificate/Advanced Diploma

Minimum of 4 GCSEs at grades A* to C

A Levels

Minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C

NVQ Level 3

Possession of NVQ Level 2

Advanced Apprenticeship

Completion of entry level two apprenticeship

Level Four

NVQ 4 (HND or HNC)

Possession of NVQ Level 3

Diploma in Foundation Studies

National Certificate or Advanced Diploma

Foundation Degree

A Levels

Completion of Advanced Apprenticeships


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