Uxbridge College students put on gowns and mortar boards to celebrate achieving university-level qualifications. Students of all ages graduated in Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Foundation Degrees at the ceremony on 5 November.
These qualifications in engineering, computing, business, and care management improve career prospects, and can also give graduates the option to enter university in the second or third years.
Two friends who were graduating on a Higher National Diploma in Business were Darshan Patel and Jaskirit Bharj, both age 21.
The former pupils of Mellow Lane School in Hayes, who both still live in Hayes, have now joined a BA Honours degree in Business Administration at Kingston University in the third year.
Darshan said: "I am over the moon to be graduating today and very excited about the future. Achieving good grades in the HND is hard work, but it's well worth it, and much cheaper than studying at university. My ambition once I complete my degree is to go into property development and perhaps to work abroad."
Speaking at the ceremony at Brunel University, Dr Darrell DeSouza, Vice Principal for Standards and Curriculum, said: "Uxbridge College's higher education graduation ceremony is always a very special occasion - because it recognises what a huge achievement it is to succeed at this level. The HNCs, HNDs and Foundation Degrees you will be receiving today are, as you know, taught at Level 4, the same standard as a university degree.
"As higher education graduates, you can expect a number of benefits - one of which is that you are likely to be better off financially. According to a report by Universities UK, the average lifetime earnings of a graduate equated to around £160,000 more than those of a non-graduate with two A-levels.
"You should feel enormously proud of what you have achieved. Proud that you have made a better future for yourselves. Proud of what you have done for your families. Proud of the crucial contribution you will make to your community and our economy. Proud that you have established yourself as a role model for others who will follow you."