Sixth Form compared to uni

Sometimes it can be difficult to know the differences and similarities between sixth form college and university until you’re at university. Continue reading this blog to find out how some aspects of sixth form college compare against university from the perspective of a final year student.

Students walking through Stag Hill campus


At sixth form college, students have a campus where they go to study; this is the same for campus based universities like the University of Surrey. Facilities are based in one area and only typically students and members of staff will go onto the campus, rather than facilities being integrated and distributed across a city for a city-based university. However, one difference between Sixth Form and university campus’ is the size. University campus’ will be considerably larger as they have a greater selection of facilities such as student halls, bars, restaurants, support services, several study spaces, specialist equipment for different degree subjects and the Students Union.

Number of students

Another contributing factor to a larger campus is the number of students. Universities typically have more students than Sixth Forms, so more space is needed! The University of Surrey is a medium sized university, but students are never all in the same place at once.


‘Homework’ is not typically set at university (but can vary on university and degree), but this does not mean that students don’t do any work at home. Students will have their lectures (where they get taught content), but also spend a lot of time doing independent studying which could include:

  • Revision
  • Extra reading
  • Writing up lecture notes
  • Assignments (like coursework)
  • Group work
Students in the library

Free periods

At sixth form college students may have scheduled free periods where they have time to do their homework or extra curricular activities. University students have timetabled lectures/tutorials/seminars, and anything outside of this time could be viewed as free periods, but in reality it is just time to spend doing anything students like. How students structure their time really varies, but anytime outside of their timetables lectures/tutorials/seminars, they could be doing any of the following:

  • Extra reading
  • Assignments (like coursework)
  • Revision
  • Writing up lecture notes
  • Group work
  • Volunteering
  • Part time work
  • Socialising
  • Cooking meals
  • Food shopping
  • Laundry
  • Meetings
  • Relaxing


Although this can vary depending on university and degree, not all lectures/tutorials/seminars are registered (some may be taken for mandatory practicals/tutorials etc). This is quite different from sixth form college where registers may be taken every lesson, but does not mean you can skip all your classes at university as students would fall very behind. At university, students are adult learners so need to take responsibility for their own learning.

Potentially living on campus

For most students, they don’t typically live at sixth form college, but lots of students live at university! This is a big difference where students learn how to live with new people and take care of themselves.

Social events

There are lots more social events at university compared to at sixth form college. Depending on your interests, there is something for everyone!


Societies are are key part of student life at university. At sixth form college there may be extra curricular activities that students can get involved in, but there is a greater variety to choose from at university and they are student run!

Students at the Surrey Summit (located at the Surrey Sports Park)

This blog went through some of the differences and similarities between sixth form college and university. To read other blogs written by current students, click here!