University Pathways

How top-up degrees work

All academic College of Birmingham (COB) courses carry national recognition of OFQUAL, the UK regulatory body for Higher Education.

Graduating College of Birmingham (COB) students can progress to a University program, either to join at Undergraduate entry-level, usually on completion of Level 3, or onto a “top-up” Degree, depending on the level of their OFQUAL program. These level equivalents can be viewed on our ‘Study Levels Explained‘ page.

Top-up degrees are for those who already hold a nationally recognized Certificate or Diploma of an appropriate level and are looking to complete their qualification to a full Degree. For Level 3 programs students can apply for Undergraduate entry for a full three-year program. Level 4 requires final 2 years completion. At Level 5 it is the final year, Level 6 will give entry to post graduate programmes and Level 7 gives exemptions from certain Masters programmes including MBA.

Top-up courses require you to have a diploma qualification in a relevant subject; this means that the course of study should be closely tied to your previous qualification. However, it does not have to be the same subject. This flexibility allows our students to have a wide range of career or completion prospects upon graduation.

All of the academic courses offered by College of Birmingham (COB) are Ofqual approved and universities will generally accept the credits awarded to students. Students should make it clear to the University that the qualification is Ofqual RFQ validated at the stated level/credit value. College of Birmingham (COB) can provide students with the requisite Ofqual documentation and transcript if required. Alternatively, students can visit theOFQUAL website to confirm the qualification. Each University will consider an application on its merits subject to their own specific entry requirements.

Progression options

On completion of an College of Birmingham (COB) course, students have the following options available to them.

1. Top up with an College of Birmingham (COB) pre-agreement.

College of Birmingham (COB) works closely with a range of top UK universities, offering multiple progression routes to students. We can negotiate lower tuition fees and provide application assistance for entry to several UK and international universities. ATHE and LRN, our OFQUAL partners, have direct articulation arrangements with several Universities that give full recognition for entry (Click here to see ATHE progression routes). College of Birmingham (COB) has some prior approval University partners. To view specific University Top-up options via College of Birmingham (COB), click here to choose a course, then click on ‘University Top up’.

However, students have a range of options in addition to College of Birmingham (COB) or ATHE agreements.

3. Study FULL TIME on Campus.

Most Universities will accept OFQUAL credits for advanced entry and therefore students can choose their University to study full time for a shorter period. It should be understood by students that these are general guidelines and students should always check the requirements with their preferred University or their local University Agent if they intend to make an application.

3. Study PART TIME on Campus.

Many Universities operate part time/evening provision and students should check possibilities with their preferred Universities first.

4. Study by DISTANCE LEARNING for top up programmes.

Many UK Universities run off-campus distance learning programs and College of Birmingham (COB) will always seek direct arrangements with these universities to accept our students. Current university progression arrangements can be viewed on the specific course pages, under ‘University top-up’. Students may choose to apply directly to a UK University not linked to ATHE or College of Birmingham (COB). Several Universities operate distance learning Business programs and students can apply directly for credits or other forms of advanced entry.

5. Study with UK Universities BASED OVERSEAS.

Some UK Universities operate overseas Campuses and may accept local students on their programs with advanced entry. For example, UK Universities have campuses in Dubai, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong. Students should check locally for these arrangements.


Students may want to study at Institutions nearer their home country or qualifications outside of the UK. For example, many Australian Universities offer distance learning and will recognize equivalent UK qualifications on a case by case basis.USA and Canadian Universities will also, generally, accept UK qualification equivalence.

7. Study for an AMBA MBA

The Association of MBAs is a membership organization that provides accreditation and upholds the highest international standards of MBA programs. Many UK Universities are Members and offer distance learning study. Although credits cannot be given, admission can be gained via the College of Birmingham (COB) Level 6 or 7 plus the requisite additional entry requirements of your chosen University. Students should check the regulations of their chosen University first.

If you require more information regarding specific progression routes, these are available on each course page under ‘university progression’, alternatively you can contact the College of Birmingham (COB) Support team