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Higher Education

Are you thinking about what to do when you finish your level 3 course, but you’re unsure whether to study at college or university? Consider staying with us! We offer a large range of higher education courses and professional qualifications designed to help you progress to your chosen career.


Did you know that you can study a higher education course right here at Warrington & Vale Royal College?

If you've almost finished your level 3 course and are thinking about your next steps, consider staying with us to continue your educational journey. We offer a wide range of Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) - designed to equip you with the in-demand skills and knowledge that employers are looking for.

What are HNCs and HNDs?

A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a level 4 vocational qualification that can be completed in one year full-time, or over two years part-time. Level 4 is equivalent to the first year of a degree.

A Higher National Diploma(HND) is a level 5 vocational qualification that can be completed in one year full-time, or over two years part-time. Level 5 is the equivalent to the second year of a degree and prepares you to gain an honours degree level qualification. Upon completion of a HND course, you can go to university for one year to complete your degree.

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs)

We offer a range of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) - new level 4 and level 5 qualifications that sit between A levels, T levels and degrees. These are high-quality, career-focused courses that provide sector-specific knowledge and skills.

Find out more HTQs

Higher Apprenticeships

We also offer a range of higher apprenticeships, which are a great alternative to achieving a higher level qualification by combining practical training with study.

Find out more about higher apprenticeships

Why stay at college to study a higher education course?

There are many reasons why you might choose to continue your educational journey at your local higher education college, Warrington & Vale Royal College, rather than going straight to university.

Choose us for:

  • Affordable course prices – our full-time fees are just £5,995 per year and part-time fees are just £2,997 per year (much cheaper than university fees)
  • Great employer links providing you with worthwhile industry experience
  • Smaller class sizes and one-to-one support
  • Modern and innovative facilities on campus such as our brand new Health & Social Care Academy, Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Training Centre and our Advanced Creative & Digital Skills Centre - to name but a few!
  • Easy access by car and public transport

What do our higher education students say about us?

We receive fabulous feedback from our higher education students!

  • 95% would recommend their course to a friend
  • 97% agree they felt welcome on their first day in college
  • 96% agree the teaching on their course is good
  • 96% agree teachers know their subject well
  • 95% agree they are developing employability skills
  • 95% agree they have received quick feedback on their work
  • 94% agree the college listens to their views about the course feedback on their course
  • 96% agree that their teachers treat them fairly and with respect.

Source: QDP student survey November 2023

Additional Financial Support

Depending upon your circumstances, Warrington & Vale Royal College may be able to support you with any additional costs you are struggling with, which are not covered by the HE Loan you have been awarded. You must be in receipt of the HE Funding Loan to be eligible to apply to our Higher Education Further Assistance Fund.

Who can apply for this support?

Any of Higher Education students, who have applied for and have been award Higher Education funding. The student must be in receipt of the Maintenance Loan element of HE funding.

What type of support am I able to receive?

We will consider applications from students who are facing financial difficulties, and who are at risk of not being able to remain in Higher Education. The fund may be able to support students with an unexpected financial crisis.

How much will I get?

The amount you receive will be dependent upon what type of support you need.

How will I be paid?

Any financial payments will be paid into your bank account. Please note we can only refund amounts to the student’s bank account. It is essential that you have a bank account in your own name, as no cash alternatives will be made. We cannot make payments into a partner/parent/carer bank account, unless you have an appointeeship document.

What evidence will I need to provide?

You will be required to provide evidence of all current household income and expenditure. We will need full details of your HE Loan award, and need to see bank accounts, bills and any other financial documents in support of your application

How do I apply?

You can apply using our paper application, available from Learner Services. You will need to provide evidence at the time of application, please be aware that there may be a delay in your application being processed if your form is incomplete, or evidence is missing. If you need support in applying please do ask as we will be more than happy to help you.

What happens after I have applied?

Once we have received your application it will be assessed by a panel of staff. You may be required to attend for interview. We will advise of the panel decision as soon as possible. It is the student’s responsibility to tell the Department for Work and Pensions about any direct funding support that they receive from the College as payments received may affect their eligibility for some benefits.

What support is available for higher education students?

All higher education students will have termly 1:1 tutorials with their Programme Leader to support their progress on programme.

Students also have access to an online tutorial programme which provides guidance on a wide range of topics such as careers, mental health, managing finances, support for single parents and working online. In addition, students can access a range of workshops throughout the year to support with topics such as study skills, academic writing and time management.

We have a team of staff dedicated to providing learning support if it is required and a wellbeing team on hand to offer guidance, support and help when needed. All higher education students have access to a designated Progress Coach who also provides wellbeing support.

What are the funding options?

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for financial support including the Higher Education Financial Assistance Fund. Our Guidance and Wellbeing Team can provide you with advice on loans and discuss with you any financial concerns you might have.

Click here to find out more information about financial support at college.

Other options may be:

  • Higher Education Finance: all of our HNC/HND programmes are eligible for a Higher Education Loan, which you only start to repay once you are earning over £25,000.
  • Tuition Fee Loans: eligible students studying for their first undergraduate course can apply for a tuition fee loan - this will cover the cost of the course.
  • Maintenance Loans: all full-time students can apply for a Maintenance Loan to help with living and study costs. The amount of support students receive is dependent on the household income.
    • Up to £10,227 per year is available for those who live away from home
    • Up to £8,610 per year is available for students who live with their parents
    All students regardless of their level of household income can receive a basic Maintenance Loan.

Additional support is also available:

Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to a:

  • Disabled Students Allowance (DSA): this is a grant to help meet extra course costs which students can face as a result of a disability.
  • Childcare Grant: to help with childcare costs
  • Parents Learning Allowance/Dependents Grant: you may qualify for additional grants if you have children or adult dependents.

For further information on loans and how to apply, visit:

What are the different higher education course levels?

While deciding which course you’d like to undertake, it’s good to learn more about the different levels available to help you make an informed choice. Whatever level you go for, you’ll come away equipped with the in-demand skills that employers are looking for, and the skills you’ll need to go onto further study.

Higher National Certificate (HNC):

The Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a level 4 qualification that provides a foundational level of knowledge and practical skills in a specific subject area. Students have the choice to complete this course full-time over one year, or part-time over two years. HNCs are designed to give you a solid understanding of your chosen field and prepare you for work or progression to the next level of education.

Higher National Diploma (HND):

The Higher National Diploma (HND) is a higher education level 5 qualification that builds on the knowledge and skills gained in a HNC. Students have the choice to complete this course full-time over one year, or part-time over two years. It offers a deeper understanding of your chosen subject and focuses on practical application. Graduates with a HND are well-prepared for a wide range of roles within their chosen industry or can progress to a higher level of education, such as a degree program.

Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ):

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQ) focus on developing a high level of technical knowledge and skills required for specific job roles or sectors. They are perfect for students who want a more practical, employer-led study programme. Higher Technical Qualifications can equip you with the expertise you need to excel in your chosen career.

Higher Education Graduation Ceremony

Each year, we honour the achievements of our higher education and professional students at our Higher Education Graduation Ceremony. Set in the atmospheric St. Elphin's Church in Warrington, the ceremony recognises the determination and commitment of students who have completed HNCs and HNDs as well as higher level apprenticeships and professional qualifications.

View the gallery Read more about our most recent ceremony

Meet our students

WVRHE Awards Create Photography011122 22 Large

Adam Boyd

Adam Boyd began his studies at our college seven years ago, when he enrolled on to a foundation learning course. He has since worked all the way up to completing both a HNC and HND in Graphic Design. Adam is the recent recipient of The Harry Cunningham Higher Education Progression Award 2022 - a true mark of his inspirational educational journey and progression.

Erin Hague

Erin Hague

Erin Hague studied Level 3 Art & Design before moving on to HND Fine Art to develop her skills further. Erin says her HND helped her to advance her creative thinking as well as her artistic and technical skills. After completing her HND, Erin secured a place at Aberystwyth University to study Fine Art, with the intention of learning more about painting and illustration and preparing herself for a career in art.

Emily Fairclough

Emily Fairclough

Emily (pictured centre) began her studies at our college in 2018 on a level 3 course, working all the way up to completing our HND Sports & Exercise Sciences course this year. Emily is now completing her sporting degree at UCEN Manchester, whilst working as a sports coach at David Lloyd Gyms.

There are a number of important documents that all higher education students must read and refer to throughout their studies.

View all policies & procedures