Frequently Asked Questions
Are you affiliated to Varndean School?
No, Varndean College is completely independent to Varndean School. We just happen to have similar names and share the same magnificent views of Brighton!
Can I study a combination of A Levels and vocational courses?
Yes, many students study a combination of A Level and vocational courses. For example, this could be 2 A Levels and a BTEC, 1 A Level and 2 BTECs or even 3 BTECs. Please note that a single BTEC is equivalent to 1 A Level and a double BTEC is equivalent to 2 A Levels. Please also note that if you are looking to follow a specific career path at university, then it is worth checking on the UCAS website to find out what entry requirements are required for a specific degree course. This can vary from one university to another and from one course to another. Many undergraduate degree courses do carry specific A Level entry requirements.
Can I try a subject out before deciding my subject choices?
No, unfortunately this is not possible. However, under certain circumstances, students may request to switch a course within the first few weeks of term if they find they have made the wrong choice. Please note, however, this is subject to places being available on the alternative course they wish to switch to.
Can you apply for a course if you haven’t got the relevant GCSE?
Yes, you can on some courses. But for some, for example Modern Foreign Languages and Sciences, you will need to have obtained the GCSE with a specific grade. Details are all available on the individual course pages of our prospectus and website.
Can you apply to study four A Levels?
Traditionally most students study three A Levels. We would suggest it is better to do this and achieve three good grades, than to try to study four subjects with the possibility of not doing so well overall. There is no particular advantage to having four A Levels. If going on to university or into employment they are interested in the three A Levels.
Can you take more than one Art related subject?
Yes, you can but we would recommend no more than two out of your three subject choices due to the workload on these courses.
Do classes get chosen by the grades we achieved at GCSE?
No, the only exception to this is for Level 2 GCSE Maths.
Do you have student car parking?
Unfortunately we do not provide student car parking on site, however there is free street parking in the surrounding area to the college.
Do you have to be studying Sport to be part of a Sports Team?
No, there are many sports activities that you can participate in as part of the College’s enrichment programme.
Do you have to wear uniform?
No, you do not have to wear a uniform, but please dress reasonably and sensibly.
Does Level 3 Childcare count as one course?
Yes, the Level 3 Childcare & Education is a full-time course. You cannot study any other courses alongside it.
How do I apply?
If Varndean College is your first choice college, then you can make an application using the College's online application system. This can be found at, apply.varndean.ac.uk. Firstly, you will need to set up an online account using your email address and a password. It is advisable not to use your school email address, as once you leave your school in the summer of 2020 you will no longer be able to access this. After setting up the account, you can then complete all relevant sections and submit. You can also save the application at any time and return to a later date.
How do you support anxious students in transition from school to college?
When applying for college you can state on your application form if you would like support. A member of our Additional Support Team will then be in touch with you to help allay any concerns/anxieties you may have about coming to college. We can then offer ongoing support once you are studying with us.
How far is it to the nearest train station?
Preston Park station (the closest) is an approximate 15-20 min walk away.
How long is the college day?
The college day runs from 8.40am - 4.10pm on 3 days and 8.40am - 5.05pm on 2 days. However, each student has their own individual timetable and is not expected to be in lessons for this entire time. Each day is different. One day your first lesson may not be until 10.30am or another day it may not be until the afternoon. You are only expected to be in college for your timetabled lessons. Outside of these lesson times, however, you are advised to use your time wisely by undertaking independent study, either offsite or onsite.
How many students do you have?
We currently have approximately 1800 students, predominantly on Level 3 or mixed vocational programmes.
How many students study the IB?
We have an average of 45-50 students each year study the IB Diploma.
How will I know where my classes are?
At the beginning of your first term, you will be issued with a timetable which will show which rooms your lessons take place in. You will also be given a copy of the college map. At your induction day, you will also be taken on a guided tour of the college.
Is the College wheelchair friendly?
The main building is all wheelchair friendly, as well as our new STEM Centre. If you apply to us we would make sure you were timetabled into classrooms that had wheelchair access.
Is there accessibility to a gym?
Yes, the college has a fitness suite which all students can use after they have undergone a formal induction session.
Is there free Wi-Fi?
Yes, the college offers free Wi-Fi. You will be given instructions about this when you start at college.
What happens if I don't get the grades I need?
If you do not achieve the grades needed to follow a particular course, then this will be discussed at your second ‘Enrolment Interview’ in late August. If necessary, we will look at finding you an alternative subject or course to study. In some circumstances, it may be the case that you have to follow an Intermediate level course for one year and then continue on to an Advanced level course after that.
What is the length of a lesson?
The length of a standard lesson is 1hr and 30 mins (made up of 2 periods, each period being 45 mins).
What is your average class size?
Our average class size is 18/20.
When do I attend for an interview?
You will be invited in for an Admissions interview in either January or February depending upon which school you currently attend. You will then attend a further Enrolment interview in late August once you have received your GCSE results.
Which bus serves Varndean College?
The 5B and the 55 buses stop immediately outside Varndean College.
Which schools do students come from?
Students come from a huge range of schools, not just from within Brighton & Hove, but right across Sussex; from as far north as Haywards Heath, Worthing in the West and Eastbourne in the East.
Why can't I apply to both Varndean & BHASVIC?
You cannot apply to both Varndean and BHASVIC as they are both very similar colleges offering a very similar range of courses. Each college has to plan its very complex curriculum timetable months in advance and therefore it would prove extremely misleading and disruptive if there were students applying to both colleges and holding places at both colleges simultaneously.
Will there be assemblies?
No, there are no regular assemblies like you currently have at school.