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The Higher Education System in Wales

Learn about the higher education system in Wales. Find out how it compares to the rest of the UK, the different kinds of programs and qualifications offered and how long they take to complete.

Feb 6, 2024
The Welsh Higher Education System

Wales requires everyone to attend compulsory schooling up to the age of 16. However, most institutions require some form of qualification as a precondition to entry into higher education. 

So, the higher education phase effectively begins from the age of 18 after students have attained either their A levels or a vocational qualification equivalent to A levels (such as NVQs - National Vocational Qualifications or BTECs - Business and Technology Education Council qualifications).

Under Welsh law, only certain higher education institutions have the right to use the title ‘university.’ There are, however, eight higher education institutions charged with delivering higher education across a broad range of vocational and academic qualifications, including certificates, higher national certificates, diplomas, higher national diplomas as well as a variety of foundation, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees.

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Generally, the following timeframes apply to higher education studies in Wales:

Program:Duration:
          National Certificates (NC)1 year          
Higher National Certificates (HNC)NC + 1 year
Diplomas2 years
Higher National DiplomasHNC + 1 year
Foundation Degrees2 years
Bachelor’s Degrees3 years
Master’s DegreesBachelor’s degree + 12 months
PhDsMaster’s degree + 3-4 years

Quality standards for Welsh universities are among the best in the world, and credentials from Welsh institutions are well respected internationally. So no matter your level or length of study - studying in Wales is a surefire way to make a positive step towards your prospective career in any field.


Learn more about studying in Wales:

Overview

Choosing Wales as your study abroad destination means more than a top-quality education. Get an overview of Wales and why you should study abroad there.

Welsh Language & Culture

Wales is a country steeped in heritage. Find out more about what the country offers in terms of language, culture, and more! 

Tuition Fees in Wales

Tuition fees for higher education programs in Wales can vary. Many international and domestic students pay different tuition fees, depending on where they are from. In this section, you'll find all the information on how this works in Wales.

Housing and Living Costs in Wales

No matter where you study abroad, it’s important to create a budget in advance so that you’re prepared. Therefore, we’ve detailed average living and housing costs so that you can get a better idea of what you would be paying as a student in Wales.

Entry Requirements for Welsh Universities

Learn more about the national application portal for Welsh universities. This section covers what you'll need to do when applying as an undergraduate and postgraduate.

Scholarships

Don't let international student tuition fees stop you from studying abroad in Wales. Find out more about some of the scholarships available to international students here! 

Student Visas for the UK

Do you need a visa to enter Wales to study? Learn more about the student visa process, and what you need to enter the country, depending on your citizenship. Don't worry! We've gathered the information you'll need to make it happen.

Student Life in Wales

Wondering what it's like to study abroad in Wales? Discover what student life looks like outside of the classroom.

Programs in Wales

Ready to browse higher education courses in Wales? Use our search engine to find and compare top programs in Wales today!

Keystone Team

Author

The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.