Routes into Higher Education

Home | Routes into Higher Education

Routes into Higher Education

We are in a really fortunate position in Scotland to have a wide range of excellent colleges and universities right here, with lots of routes and flexibility to move and progress through college and university too! 

First up, take a look at the map below showing the location and spread of colleges and universities across Scotland. Quiz yourself to see if you know where the numbers lie, and what colleges and universities are in those areas!


Hopefully you knew that the big 'number six' is Edinburgh! Right here in Edinburgh, we have six colleges and universities. Can you name them? We'll give you a clue - one is Scotland's Rural College! Then you've got as many as seven colleges and unis in Glasgow, with options to study in other cities such as Dundee, Aberdeen and Stirling too. On top of that we have more rural colleges and universities, for example the University of the Highlands and Islands with campuses spread across the Highlands and Islands. Maybe you would prefer to study in a big city, or perhaps a smaller city or more rural campus would suit you better! Whatever subject you want to study, it is most likely on offer at a university or college here in Scotland. There are literally thousands of courses on offer!

There are lots of different routes and flexbility between college and university study.

Looking at the diagram below, you can see some of the possible routes you might choose to take after school. Some people will go straight from school into university level study, using the qualifications they have achieved at school for entry. Some people will go to college after school, and there can be a number of reasons for doing so:

  • There are some courses which are only offered at college. For example, Professional Cookery. So if this was a course you wanted to pursue, then college would be the right choice for you! College qualifications are absolutely fantastic qualifcations in their own right and can be used to enter the workplace on completion!
  • To help with the transition from school to university. Colleges offer a very supportive environment and can help to bridge the gap between school and uni.
  • The course you want to do at uni may only start in 3rd year, so you would complete a HND (2 year course at college) before you can apply.
  • You may not have enough Highers to go straight to uni so going to college first can get you the extra qualification(s) you need to get to uni. As you'll see below, a HNC (1 year course at college) is on the same academic level as most first years at university, so this means that you can sometimes go straight into the second year of uni with your HNC. Similarily, you can often use a HND to go into the 3rd year of university. This is called articulation. Alternatively, if articulation isn't an option, you can often still use your college qualification to progress (known as progression) into the 1st year of uni.

All of these routes are great options - the point is that you choose the route that works best for you!

You may also be interested in our blog post focusing on the differences between studying at college and university.