Looking to Boost Your Career Prospects? Consider a Foundation Degree
Work and education naturally complement each other. But for many people, getting the balance right between them can be tricky once they leave formal education at 18.
The majority of school leavers choose to go into work rather than continue their education at a graduate level. There are many reasons for this. Academia doesn’t suit everyone. Many people would rather earn than take on debt to carry on their studies. For some people, their circumstances leave them little choice.
But once in work, the value of qualifications quickly becomes obvious. If you have your sights set on progressing your career and moving into better-paid positions, you need to develop your skills and expertise.
Experience is not always enough. Depending on the role, employers might set expectations that candidates for more senior positions have a certain level of qualification. And even if that is not explicit, candidates with qualifications often stand a better chance of landing the job than those without.
To employers, a relevant qualification serves as proof of your skills and knowledge. It also demonstrates you are willing to put the effort in to achieve your ambitions.
It’s important to remember that the decision you made at 18 to go into work or continue your education doesn’t define your prospects. Being in work doesn’t close the door to you gaining qualifications to help you advance your career further down the line. There are even qualifications that, should you want to, will allow you to continue onto degree level and beyond further down the line.
One of the best examples of this is a foundation degree. A well respected standalone qualification in its own right, a foundation degree is often seen as the perfect link between work-related vocational qualifications and higher academic qualifications. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Foundation Degree?
The name ‘foundation degree’ highlights the fact that these courses were originally designed as a pathway into graduate degrees for people who leave school without the qualifications to get on a degree course. But this has become less relevant since the school leaving age was raised from 16 to 18.
In terms of the qualification level, a Foundation Degree is equivalent to two-thirds of a graduate degree. That means it takes two years to complete full time, or three years part time. It’s the same qualification level (level 5) as a Higher National Diploma (HND). By way of comparison, an A-Level is a Level 3 qualification, a graduate degree Level 6.
Like HNDs, Foundation Degree courses are often focused on vocational, or work-related, subjects. For example, Regent College London offers Foundation Degrees in Business Management. The main difference between the two is that an HND leans heavily towards on-the-job learning. This is an important part of a Foundation Degree, too, but it is balanced with more theoretical ‘classroom’ learning.
The fact that a Foundation Degree is more similar to a traditional academic course than an HND also means that the pathway to higher qualifications is more straightforward. As a Foundation Degree officially counts as two-thirds of the credits you need for an undergraduate degree, you can complete your full degree with a one-year (two years part-time) top-up degree course.
How can a Foundation Degree help your career?
A Level 5 qualification is a high standard. It demonstrates significant knowledge in your subject area. The fact that many Foundation Degree courses are directly linked to specific vocations and professions mean they are well regarded by employers. They are qualifications that are respected equally for their relevance to the workplace and for their academic rigour.
The fact that a Foundation Degree has no formal benchmark for entry makes it a suitable option for people in a wide range of circumstances. Your suitability to enrol on a course is best determined by having a conversation with the college or university running it. Many will accept people based on experience in work alone. HNDs and Foundation Degrees are both offered online as well as on campus.
If you are keen to turn your achievements in work into a well-respected qualification, a Foundation Degree could be the perfect option. With opportunities to study part-time through evening and weekend classes, you can continue to work full time. That will allow you to immediately put what you learn into practice, to the benefit of both your own personal development and your employer.
Once you gain your Foundation Degree, you will have a formal qualification to prove you are ready to move on to the next stage of your career. And you will have the option to further your progress by gaining a full degree, should you so choose, which will open up yet more opportunities