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Taking your first steps into higher education
Taking your first steps into higher education

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2.1 Higher education – some options

The following activity aims to get you to start thinking about the sheer variety of places that provide higher education. Be aware of this variety, it is an important starting point to enable you to take your first steps into university.

Activity 1 Expectations about university

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes.

Have a look at the five pictures of English universities and colleges. Then answer the questions that follow in your notebook.

Photograph of an Oxford college with green quadrangles surrounded by traditional college buildings.
Figure 4 The dreaming spires of University of Oxford – a university that dates back to the Middle Ages
Photo of a modern glass and brick building which forms part of University of Wolverhampton.
Figure 7 University of Wolverhampton – has been a university since 1992
Photograph of a large domed brick building on University of Birmingham campus.
Figure 5 University of Birmingham – a ‘civic’ or ‘red brick’ university
Graduates receiving their degree in a hall full of other graduates and their supporters.
Figure 8 Open University Graduation Ceremony – celebrating success and hard work
Logo of Furness College.
Figure 6 Furness College – a further education college which also offers higher education
  1. Which pictures do you most associate with the word ‘university’?
  1. Which pictures can you imagine yourself in most easily?
  1. Which of these settings can you see yourself fitting?
  1. Why was a picture of a further education college included?
  1. Have you ever considered The Open University as an option?


This activity aimed to get you thinking about two important aspects of your first steps into higher education. The first focuses on the fact that there are many different types of university and that you may find it easier to imagine yourself in some rather than in others.

The second is that it’s important that you work out what is important to you. Only you know what your needs and circumstances are.