Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you’re thinking of studying with us, are already a student, or are a parent/carer, these frequently asked questions may answer any queries you have about South Tyneside College.

Higher Education


Do I not have to go to a university to study higher education?

Absolutely not.

You can study higher education right here on your doorstep with the highest Ofsted rated college in Tyneside. With campuses north and south of the river, we pride ourselves on delivering high-quality higher education programmes designed to help you achieve your career aspirations. We’re the real alternative to university.

Why study Higher Education at college? What is different?

We offer students a personal touch to learning.

Throughout your time with us, you will benefit from 1-2-1 support and guidance, flexible learning, smaller classes, industry standard facilities, fantastic industry links, knowledgeable lecturers and a culture you will achieve and excel in.

Can I study Higher Education part-time?


We offer flexible, condensed learning to our higher education students. We know how tricky juggling life and work commitments are, so we’ll work with you to make sure it’s right for you.

Are college fees for HE lower than uni fees?

Our HE programmes are value for money for our students, and we offer help with fees and funding so nothing can hold you back from achieving your dreams.

For Higher Education, what subjects can I study and at what levels?

We offer HNCs, HNDs, and foundation degrees, which will set you up for a career in your chosen industry, or you can continue to university for your final top-up year.

We offer HE programmes in the following areas:

  • Art and Design
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Computing
  • Counselling
  • Criminal Justice
  • Early Years
  • Education and training
  • Engineering
  • Hairdressing
  • Health and Social Care
  • Hospitality and Catering
  • Management
  • Media Production
  • Games Development
  • Music
  • Sport
What financial support does the College offer if I’m looking to study Higher Education and how do I apply?

There are a number of loans, grants and bursaries available to our HE students. 

Head to our financial support page or for more information.

Is the learning environment at South Tyneside College different to uni?

We offer students a friendly, supportive, multi-cultural environment you’ll thrive in.

With industry standard facilities, well-being spaces, coffee shops, a restaurant and a hair and beauty salon, you’ll be able to experience a lively campus.

What grades do I need to study Higher Education at college?

This will all depend on the programme and level you’re looking to start.

The best way to find out what grades you need is to pop to one of our Advice and Enrolment events. Please check our events page of the website for dates and times.

What if I don’t have the required grades for Higher Education?

Don’t worry!

We’ll work with you to find the right programme that will get you on track to achieve your career aspirations. We have a lot of support available from tutorial sessions, maths and English courses and in-classroom support.

I’ve missed the UCAS deadline, have I missed my chance to study Higher Education?

This doesn’t mean you have missed your chance to study HE.

You can apply for your desired programme directly with us. We’ll then process your application and get you enrolled on to your programme.

What is Clearing?

Clearing shows which HE programmes are still available for you to apply for.

From 5 July to 19 October, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places. Visit our Higher Education page for more information.

What is the application process for Higher Education?

Once you apply for a HE programme, you’ll be contacted by a member of the team for an interview for the course.

It’s nothing to worry about – this is so we can assess your skills and identify any additional learning support you may need throughout your studies. Once you have completed your interview, you’ll be able to apply for any funding you need. Once this has been finalised, you can complete your enrolment ready to start your programme.

What other support is available?

Supporting all our students is our number one priority.

We want all students to flourish and excel while helping them develop confidence, self-motivation, and achieve their career aspirations. Our support comes in many forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Mental health and well-being counselling service
  • Careers guidance and higher education advice
  • School Liaison Team and Gateway Team
  • Financial support
  • Tutorial Coaches

Additional Learning Support:

  • Special exam arrangements
  • Help with personal care needs
  • Support assistants
  • Communication support workers
  • Dyslexia support
  • Maths and English support
For Higher Education, what are the progression opportunities?

Depending on what level programme you start with, you can progress from level 4 up to a foundation degree.

Our strong links with employers means we can help you look for a career in the industry of your choice. If you would prefer to top-up your qualification, you can also do this through a university. We can help you with any job or university applications, offering you advice and guidance throughout the process.



What are vocational courses?

Practical, hands-on, work related. It’s as simple as that. All our vocational courses have been specifically designed to guarantee you have the work-ready expertise employers are looking for.

What vocational courses can I study?

From engineering to sport, and from catering to hair and beauty, we offer a huge range of vocational courses.

What are the entry requirements for vocational courses?

Each of our vocational courses will have slightly different entry requirements, to help us make sure that you’re on the right programme for you. However, in most cases, we look for a minimum of 4 GCSEs at Grade 4 – 9.

What is the transition from GCSE to vocational study like?

Whatever option you choose to take after GCSE, it’s likely that there will be a few changes in the way you study.

A key difference will be the increased freedom and independence, as you will have fewer lessons across the week. It’s also the case that you’ll have smaller class sizes, which means that you can build fantastic relationships with your tutors and classmates. Finally, studying a vocational course will be much more hands-on than the learning you are used to for GCSE. If you’re someone that loves practical-based learning, a vocational course might be for you!

How are vocational qualifications assessed?

For each course, you will complete a variety of units which are assessed through projects, coursework, exams, and moderated assignments. For each unit you will receive either a Pass, Merit, or a Distinction.

What’s the difference between a vocational course and A-levels?

There are a number of differences between vocational study and A-levels, including the teaching style, assessment methods, and amount of practical experience.

Essentially, if you study A-levels, you will be taught in a similar style to your lessons at GCSE, whereas with vocational study, you will combine any theory with practical work so you can apply what you learn.  Additionally, with A-levels, you are assessed through exams at the end of your final year. If you know that exam pressure isn’t for you, a vocational course may be the answer as they are assessed throughout the year, which spreads out the work that contributes to make your final grade.

How long does it take to complete a vocational course?

There are number of different levels you can study at, and these vary in length.

A vocational course at Level 2 course will last for one year but the extended diploma at level 3 will last for two.

Where can I progress after completing a vocational qualification?

Following successful completion of a vocational qualification, you will have a number of different opportunities at your fingertips.

Many of our students go on to further study (including university), apprenticeships, or go straight out into employment. Whichever option you choose, we will be there to support you with expert advice and guidance.

Will universities accept vocational qualifications?

95% of universities and colleges in the UK accept vocational qualifications, including competitive students in the Russell Group.

The time management and self-organisation skills you will develop in a vocational course will be key to your success at university and vocational students achieving good grades are just as sought after as A-level students.

What levels can I study at college?

We offer the following levels at vocational study:

  • Entry Level or Foundation Level — Develops communication and study skills for students who require extra help to progress
  • Level 1 — Gets you started on the fundamental basics, builds your confidence and prepares you for the next step. Equivalent to grade 1-3 at GCSE
  • Level 2 — Equivalent to grade 4-9 at GCSE
  • Level 3 — A Level standard and advanced apprenticeships
  • Level 4 — HNC and higher level apprenticeships
  • Level 5 — HND, higher level apprenticeships and Foundation Degree
  • Level 6 — Honours Degree

Anything above Level 3 is Higher Education

Parent / Carers


Why choose South Tyneside College?

As the Highest rated college in Tyneside, we provide great courses and study opportunities matched by an inspiring learning environment.

We have invested heavily to ensure we can offer our students the very best of what they need to succeed. From where the learn to how they learn, we support students every step of the way, and a great campus life means students can flourish both inside and outside the classroom.

What does the timetable look like?

Every students’ timetable will look a little different. However, students can expect a number of free periods alongside their lesson times, in which we recommend they use to support their studies.

How can students access additional learning support at South Tyneside College?

We understand how important it is for students to feel comfortable and confident during their time with us, both in and out of the classroom.

Each year our dedicated ALS team provide support for students with a wide variety of learning needs and disabilities and work closely with schools and the local authority to ensure the appropriate support is put in place.

Before beginning their journey with us, students can highlight any additional needs on their application form, and a member of our ALS team will then design them a bespoke support package. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to ask for help and our friendly team can support at any stage of study.

What support is in place?

Students will be offered continuous support throughout their time with us.

Here at South Tyneside College, we pride ourselves on the wrap around support that we offer. Our dedicated Student Services team are here to help students through every step of their learner journey from one-to-one guidance to funding and financial advice, our team welcome students to drop by for a chat or make an appointment in advance. Each student is also assigned a Tutorial Coach who will provide one-to-one reviews, support to achieve personal goals, help with university applications alongside personal statements and CV writing. Tutorial coaches set targets with each student and assess their progress throughout the year and ensure they remain on track with their studies. We also have dedicated Mental Health Ambassadors who are on hand for a chat or to offer support when needed, our on-site Counsellor is also available to all students.

What progression opportunities are there after studying at South Tyneside College?

A large proportion of our students progress onto Higher Education following the competition of their A Levels, others go onto apprenticeships, gap years, further study or straight into full-time employment.

Our Careers Hub is available to all students and offers a range of advice about further education, prospective interviews, CV building and Higher Education opportunities so there is plenty of opportunity to receive Career Guidance no matter what our learner’s progression goals are.

What extracurricular activities are on offer?

Here at South Tyneside College, our learners receive more than just a qualification.

For students who are interested in sport, our North East Sports Academy offers personalised sport programmes for all abilities, leadership and volunteering opportunities alongside a wide range of work placements.  Alternatively, our Students Union offer a variety of activities held throughout the year, encouraging students to get involved in charity events, entrepreneurial projects, and an array of other challenges. Students can be involved in as much or as little as they want in line with their studies.

Where are you located?

There’s numerous ways to visit our campus.

We are based at South Shields West Campus, if you’re travelling by Car, then we have free on-site parking. The nearest Metro Station to us is Chichester, it’s only a short 15-minute walk. There’s numerous bus stops around the campus, follow this link to help plan your journey – Traveline. We also have secure bike storage if you’re cycling to the campus.

How can we find out more information about the college?

Our Advice and Enrolment events are a great way to find out more about our range of courses, chat to our dedicated lecturing staff, tour the facilities and get a real feel for life at college. You can also follow us on social media to keep up to date with all our latest news and events.



What are Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are real jobs with real employers.

As an apprentice, you’ll work with an employer from your chosen profession. You’ll become a member of the team and be trained by industry professionals.

Apprenticeships are a mix of work and training, so you’ll spend time in employment as well as time studying to equip you with work-related skills, relevant knowledge and a nationally recognised qualification.

Each apprenticeship vacancy is set by the employer. Some may require more qualifications than others. Although some apprenticeships will not require you to have any prior qualifications, you will be expected to demonstrate a great attitude, enthusiasm for the role, along with a strong work ethic.

What will I get paid?

The minimum wage for an apprenticeship is £4.30 per hour for the first year, though many employers pay more.

When do I come to college?

This will depend on the type of apprenticeship you are studying and your employer.

In some cases, you’ll spend four days at work and one day at college. For others, you may spend several weeks at work and a week with us. Regardless of your apprenticeship you will still receive support and guidance from your work-based tutor or assessor, who will be on hand throughout your apprenticeship. You will also have access to all college facilities, regardless of your working pattern. 

What can I do after an apprenticeship?

Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you will have the skills, knowledge and industry experience to secure your dream job in your chosen field.

The majority of our apprentices stay in employment with many staying with their apprentice employer. If you would like to continue with your studies, you can also progress on to the next level of apprenticeship or start a foundation degree or HND – many of which are part time so you can continue earning.

What holidays will I get?

You’ll get at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

How long will my Apprenticeship be?

This will depend on the type of apprenticeship. They can vary from 12 months to four years.

How will I be assessed?

Assessments will take place throughout your apprenticeship.

These will be completed by your work-based assessor, who will visit you regularly in the workplace. When you have finished your apprenticeship, you will be awarded a grade based on your performance.

I don’t have the right English and Maths GCSE grades?

Don’t worry – whatever apprenticeship you choose, you can also study a functional skills qualification.

Functional skills run alongside your apprenticeship and give you the chance to achieve your grades in maths and English.

You can study an apprenticeship at various levels which include:

Intermediate Apprenticeship, Level 2 – This apprenticeship is the same level as GCSEs

Advanced Apprenticeship, Level 3 – This apprenticeship is the same level as A levels

Higher Apprenticeship, Level 4 or above – This apprenticeship is the same as a foundation degree or above.



How much does it cost?

As an employer that doesn’t pay the apprenticeship levy, you pay just 5% towards the cost of training and assessing an apprentice.

The Government will pay the rest up to the funding band maximum.

You’ll pay the training provider directly and agree on a payment schedule.

If you employ fewer than 50 employees, the government will pay 100% of the apprenticeship training costs up to the funding band maximum for apprentices aged:

  • 16 to 18
  • 19 to 24 with an education, health and care plan provided by their local authority or has been in the care of their local authority

If you exceed the funding band maximum, you’ll need to pay all the additional costs.

Can I put a current employee through an apprenticeship?


You can hire someone new or up-skill an existing employee.

Who can I hire as an apprentice?

You can employ apprentices at different levels.

From school leavers and university graduates, to people who want to further their careers or change career direction completely.

What are the requirements of an apprentice?

For the requirements of an apprentice…

An apprentice must:

  • Be 16 or over
  • Not already be in full-time education
  • Be living in England
How do I hire an apprentice?

Get in touch with our Business Engagement Team.

You can manage the recruitment process or ask us to manage it on your behalf.

How does an apprenticeship work?

During an apprenticeship, your apprentice will receive two different types of training.

‘Off-the-job’ training is delivered by us during your apprentice’s normal working hours. This training will teach your apprentice the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship standard so they can achieve occupational competence.

‘On-the-job’ training will be delivered by you, as the employer. You’ll need to give your apprentice training and supervision to help them perform the job you’ve hired them for. Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their working hours completing off-the-job training. It can be flexible and doesn’t have to mean 1 day out of the workplace every week.

We can agree a suitable training schedule to suit the needs of your business.

Is there any financial incentives for hiring an apprentice?

Employers who hire a new apprentice may be able to claim financial incentives from The Government.

For more info, visit:



What financial support is available for adults?

Many of our part-time courses are free for individuals who are eligible.

For full details of eligibility criteria, visit our finance page. 

I haven’t studied in a long time but want to go to university, what can I do?

We offer a pre-access to HE course, which is ideal if you want to return to college to develop your basic academic skills in preparation for an Access to HE course, and subsequent university entry.

The course will help you to develop maths and English skills as well as developing your personal study skills and knowledge, preparing you for future education. For more info visit our course pages. 

Can I study part time?


Most of our adult courses are part time with evening and day time classes so you can choose an option that best suits you.

When do adult courses start?

Majority of our adult courses start in September. 

However, we have various start dates across the year you can start immediately or book your space for later.

Can I study Higher Education at college?


Usually associated with going to University, not many people realise you can also study Higher Education at college – and it can often be the best route. Studying HE at college comes with a wide range of benefits – and the same University standard qualification.

Find out more about our Higher Education programmes. 

I want to change my career path, how can I do this?

Take a look at our offer! 

Whether you’re looking for a hobby course, enhancing your CV or fancy a career change, we offer something for all ages and abilities.

Our courses range from beauty to forensics, and catering to sport, we offer a huge variety of courses to suit your career goals.


Get in touch

Get in touch

Our team is always ready to help. So if you have questions on courses, your career, or anything else, complete this contact form and we’ll be in touch.