FAQs

How does an NEC course work?

NEC courses are online which means that you can study without having to attend a regular class. When you enrol you’ll receive an email explaining how to login to learn@nec which is NEC’s virtual learning environment and your gateway to the NEC community.

Your course materials have been expertly written and designed to guide you through the subject and carefully selected resources will be signposted within your course. Our course development team are highly experienced and include learning design experts, examiners, teachers and other industry professionals.

Every student who enrols with us gets support from a tutor, you’ll be able to contact them through learn@nec and speak to them if you need to. Your tutor will be fully qualified to teach, and an expert in their subject and with you every step of the way.

You can work through the course at your own pace. You’ll complete assignments and upload them to learn@nec for your tutor to mark. Your tutor will then upload their feedback for you to read. There are no deadlines (other than exams and non exam assessment of course), so you can work at a pace you’re comfortable with and that fits in around your other commitments.

Through learn@nec you’ll also be able to interact with other students in the course forums. Interacting with your peers is a great way of discussing what you’re learning and helping you to really understand it. In a world that is connected, there’s no need for an online or distance learning course to leave you feeling isolated. We use technology– like the forums– to enhance your all round learning experience.

Are there any entry requirements to enrol on a course?

You can find out about any entry requirements before you enrol on the information page for each course. This information can be found under the “Course info” tab.

None of our courses require you to have any previous qualifications, but for some we would strongly recommend that you have already studied the subject to some extent. You won’t need to have a GCSE in maths to study A level maths, for instance, but we would strongly recommend that you do to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

If English is not your first language, you should be aware that all of our courses require a good level of English comprehension.

The assessment for some courses uses real experience in the workplace, so you must be working in a suitable setting when you enrol. This mostly applies to our childcare courses where it is essential for some that you are assessed in a real work situation, and for others you will be asked questions that relate to your working day.

As courses are online, you’ll need to use a computer to access your course.

If you’re still unsure about any entry requirements, contact our Course Advice Team who will be happy to help and talk through your own situation.

What does my course fee include?

  • Your online course materials which you can download and print as needed
  • Support from your personal tutor
  • Support from the experienced NEC student support team
  • Marking of assignments and non-exam assessments
  • Guaranteed exam place and support for exam booking
  • Free e-book of essential textbooks (for some courses)
  • Additional online support from resources such as ‘Spelling, punctuation and grammar’ and ‘Succeeding as an independent learner’
  • Forums to interact with other members of the NEC community.


There are some things that you’ll need to budget for separately, but we’ll always make this clear before you enrol. These items include:

  • Registration fees with professional bodies
  • Exam fees
  • Some essential resources
  • Assessment fees if we have to send an assessor overseas.

Do I have to enrol at a certain time of year?

With NEC you can enrol at any time and begin studying whenever suits you best. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re taking a course that involves an exam, you’ll need to enrol early enough to be able to complete all your assignments and any non-exam assessment. For advice on this just contact our course advice team or look at the course information page.

Does the course lead to a recognised qualification?

Yes, the majority of our courses lead to recognised qualifications. Often they will prepare you for an exam, which if passed will lead to a qualification. This is the case with our general education courses which are accredited by major awarding bodies such as AQA, Edexcel, OCR and CIE. You will earn exactly the same qualification you would in a school or college, it’s just the way of learning that’s different. You can find specification details of each course on the course information page.

Our professional courses also lead to recognised qualifications. Our Childcare and Early Years courses lead to qualifications from CACHE, the leading awarding body in the sector. Other awarding bodies we work with include The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB).

Some courses, for example our Creativity and the Arts courses, do not lead to recognised qualifications but are a great and enjoyable way to learn more about a subject. We’ll always tell you whether the course leads to a recognised qualification or not.

Do I have to be in the UK to study an NEC course?

You can study an NEC course no matter where you are: distance learning is perfectly suited to international study.

However, If your course leads to an exam, you should ensure that you’ll be able to sit the exam before you enrol. Check with the awarding body to find out where exams are held.

AQA does not conduct exams overseas, so if you are studying an AQA course you will need to come to the UK to sit your exams.

Some of our partnership exam centres are conveniently located near airports with excellent transport links.

The British Council often arranges exams in overseas cities, so it may be worth contacting your nearest office.

If you are considering enrolling on a childcare course, it’s possible there will be an element of workplace assessment; this may be more difficult to organise outside the UK and will involve an additional cost. It’s also important to be sure that any professional qualification you gain will be accepted in the country in which you wish to work.

We recommend that you contact us for a chat about your requirements before enrolling from overseas.

How do I choose a course?

People study for all sorts of different reasons, so if you’re unsure which course you should enrol on you should begin by thinking what you want to achieve by studying it.

If you’re not sure, think about your strengths and interests – you’ll be more likely to succeed on a course if you choose something that appeals to you. You can find out more about the content of our courses by viewing the course samples, and get a more general overview by looking at the list of course topics.

You should also take into consideration how much time you’ll be able to commit to your studies; each course page contains information on how many hours are likely to be required to complete it.

I
f you still can’t decide which course to enrol on, contact our course advice team, they’ll be able to advise you.

How is my course assessed?

Different types of course are assessed in different ways. Each individual course page contains information about how that course will be assessed.

Some of our professional courses and all GCSE, IGCSE and A level courses lead to exams. Some feature non-exam assessment which counts towards your final grade and will be marked and authenticated by NEC. As you work your way through your course you’ll have assignments to complete, which you will submit to your tutor for marking.

Some courses contain external assignments which are set and marked by the relevant awarding body; NEC will arrange this for you.

For some of our childcare and early years courses, a portfolio of evidence needs to be collected through an online system. This could involve the production of learning plans, as well as assignments, professional discussion and direct observation in the workplace. Your tutor will help you to gather the evidence together and mark and give feedback on it for you. You’ll also have an assessor who will come out to your workplace to observe you.

Full details of how your course is assessed can be found in ‘About Assessment’ on the course page in learn@nec. You can also speak to the student support team if you have any further questions.

How do I enrol and what happens next?

You can enrol online, by phone or by post. If you’d like to enrol by post, you’ll need to request an enrolment form from us.

Once you’ve enrolled you’ll get an email to welcome you, guide you through logging in to learn@nec and to introduce you to your tutor.

Once logged in, you should begin by working through the ‘Getting started’ section which will show how to work through the course. You’ll also find an introductory assignment here which we recommend that you complete. We’ll be with you every step of the way to help you succeed.

How do I find an exam centre?

NEC is uniquely able to guarantee you an exam place thanks to having a number of partner exam centres. We would recommend you sit your exams at one of these if possible. A full list of partner exam centre locations can be found here: Exam information

Choosing an NEC partnership exam center has the added benefit of taking some of the pressure off you. Finding a centre can take time and we know you’ve already got enough to do. We’ll handle all of the admin, making sure you get entered for the right exam papers. All you’ll need to worry about is turning up and sitting your exam!

If you would rather sit your exams somewhere else, NEC has a list of exam centres that have accepted private candidates in the past – the same list published by most other providers. You could also approach schools and colleges yourself, explaining that you are a private candidate and ask if they would be prepared to accept you. As we don’t have signed agreements with these centres, we can’t guarantee you a place.

The awarding body overseeing the exam you’re sitting should be able to advise you of exam centres as well.

Is there any way I can get funding?

It’s possible that you will be able to obtain financial help to assist you with your studies. There are a number of potential sources for funding, information on which you can find on our Sources of financial help page.

What happens if I don’t keep up with my work?

Studying by distance learning requires you to be disciplined and take responsibility for your studying. However, it’s also highly flexible so you can study at a pace that works for you. If you feel you’re not getting as much work done as you should be, or are not going to have completed the necessary assignments in time for your intended exam date, you should speak to the student support team. They’ll be able to advise you of your options.

How will my work be marked?

When you’ve completed an assignment or piece of work, you can submit it for marking online through learn@nec. You should always keep hold of a copy of every piece of work you submit. Once you’ve submitted your work it will be marked by your personal tutor. You should receive it back, marked and with feedback, within three to five working days.

How much support will I get?

When you enrol with NEC you will get support from your tutor and the student support team for the duration of the course. The duration will depend on the course you have chosen, but as an example an A level is for two years. If you feel like you’re not going to be able to finish the course in that time, talk to the student support team. We may be able to help by extending the course.

Any extension is granted entirely at NEC’s discretion.

As a general rule, most students find that a quick chat with their tutor prior to submitting an assignment, and then another chat afterwards is enough. If you feel like you need more contact with your tutor you should contact the student support team for advice.

Is there extra support for young learners who are under 18?

Yes. We have a number of young learners who are under 18 and home-educated. We can provide additional support to with our Enhanced Service. This service is great If you feel you need extra help such as progress reports for parents, or maybe you just need a push to keep you motivated. This service is provided in addition to what you already receive on your course.

For more information about the Enhanced Service, please visit our dedicated page.

Do you provide any additional services to students enrolled on courses?

As well as the features included in the Enhanced Service, we also have add-ons which you can buy and there are no age restrictions either. The add-ons we offer are:

  • Past paper marking - You can choose to add a past paper to be marked. All of our ‘Gold Star’ courses include one past paper as standard, so if you’d like more to be marked, then this service would be useful.
    Fee: £25
  • Revision tutorial - You can choose either a one hour or 30 minute tutorial where the tutor will help you to structure your revision. The session will be tailored to your individual needs and led by the tutor.
    Fee: £30 for 30 minutes or £45 for 1 hour
  • Optional tutorial - As with the above, you can choose the duration and this will be useful if there is a particular area that requires additional attention. You can choose the subject of the tutorial.
    Fee: £30 for 30 minutes or £45 for 1 hour
  • Mid-course review - This includes progress, grades, concerns, areas for improvement and a predicted grade. A review is already included as part of the Enhanced Service, but you can request an additional one.
    Fee: £30

What if I want to make a complaint?

We pride ourselves on the quality of our service and the honest and open way we work with our students. It is rare for a student to be dissatisfied with the service they receive from us, but if this is the case and you are unhappy with any aspect of our dealings with you, you should get in touch with the student support team.

We take all complaints very seriously and will endeavour to resolve any issues you are having.

Can I fast track my course?

Many students opt to study their course within a year – we call this fast track. It’s  particularly useful when you are studying with a specific purpose in mind, like applying to university. The flexible nature of distance learning and home study courses means that this is possible, provided that you put the time in.

If we believe that you will be unable to complete all of the work you need to in order to be prepared for your intended exam dates, we’ll let you know and advise you to aim for the next exam session instead.

You can read more about this on our Fast Track page.

Still got a question?
If you can’t find the answer to your question above please contact our course advice team on 0800 389 2839 or email info@nec.ac.uk.