Routes and Options

Colleges offer a wide variety of courses, covering everything from Carpentry to Computing, Acting to Accounting. You can study at several different levels too, from practical job training qualifications to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs).

Regardless of the level, almost all courses are vocationally focused – that means they relate to a specific job area. After completing a college qualification, you’ll be prepared either to pursue your chosen career or to progress on to a university degree.

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Bullet 1 (small) Which level? 

You can study at several different levels at college. Some require no formal school qualifications to get in but others will require at least 1 or 2 Highers. 

  • Read our Understanding College Qualifications article to find out what level may suit you.
  • If you plan to apply for an HNC or HND course, use our Subject Choice Subject Chooser to check if there are any Higher subjects that you must have passed in order to get in. 

Bullet 2 (small) Which job? 

Think about the job you'd like to do. Do you need a college qualification to get into that career? If so, what kind? 

  • Check the info for the job you’re interested in here

Bullet 3 (small) A route to university? 

Do you hope to progress on to university after college? Will you need a university degree to pursue the job you want? 

  • An HNC or HND qualification at college may allow you to move directly into the second or third year of a university degree. Check the Progression Routes to find out. 

Bullet 4 (small) Still unsure? 

Not sure what job you want? Think about the subject(s) you enjoy most at school. Could you study something similar at college? 



In the last couple of years, researching which college you’d like to go to has become a bit easier. Many smaller colleges have joined together into single institutions. Scotland now has several large colleges, each offering a wide range of subjects and courses. 

There are nine colleges in the west of Scotland: 

Argyll College (UHI)

Glasgow Kelvin College

Ayrshire College

New College Lanarkshire

City of Glasgow College

South Lanarkshire College

Dumfries and Galloway College

West College Scotland

Glasgow Clyde College


Visit the websites above and compare what each college offers: 

Some colleges will have 2 or 3 different campuses. Find out where they are.

  • Do you like the location?
  • Will you be able to travel from home easily?
  • If not, would you consider moving out?

Different colleges offer many of the same courses. However, in several cases, your desired course may only be available at one or two colleges.

  • Check the college websites to see the courses they offer.
  • Read about what they involve. Remember, there could be more than one course that relates to the subject you’re interested in. What are the differences between them? Which do you like the sound of most?

Many people use their college qualification to progress on to a university degree. As we’ve explained in our Progression Routes article, some universities will let you start in the second or third year of a degree course if you have completed an HNC or an HND in a related subject.

Some college websites, like City of Glasgow College, will give you specific information about the university courses open to you if you complete an HNC/HND at their institution. Have a dig through the course information to find any details on ‘progression routes’ or ‘continuing study’.

There’s a lot more to college than coursework. You want to enjoy the social side of being a student, meet new people, and experience new things.

  • What kind of facilities does the college have?
  • Can you join clubs or societies?
  • Is there a Students’ Association or student union?
  • What kind of student support is in place, e.g. careers guidance or supported learning?

Have a look at our guidance on Student Finance.

Whichever college you choose, if you’re a Scottish student applying to an HNC or HND course you’ll be able to apply to have your tuition fees paid for. You may also be able to apply for a loan to help cover travel and living expenses.

However, each college will have extra funds in place to support those who need it. Check the college website or get in touch with college staff to find out what might be open to you.

College and university staff are always happy to receive enquiries, by phone or email. So if you’d like more information, just ask!

Next steps:

Remember, you can apply to as many different colleges and courses as you like. So don't worry if you can't decide what your first choice is yet. You want to have a few options.

Once you have some college courses in mind, you'll need to find out what's involved in applying to them. Have a look at our guidance on How to Apply.