This paper reports on the first phase of a study of the experiences of a small group of students (35) that have entered an ‘elite’ Scottish university directly from Further Education (FE) colleges where they have studied Higher National Certificate and Diploma courses. Students’ experiences were gathered through in‐depth interviews and a standardised questionnaire on entry to the university. Students typically reported positive experiences of their previous courses, with good support from staff. A key concern was balancing study and other commitments, with support from families particularly important. Despite these concerns, the students’ responses to questionnaire items on their approaches to learning in FE were similar to the patterns of responses reported by successful Higher Education (HE) students in other studies. The students’ hopes and fears about HE encompassed both a sense of excitement about this stage as well as considerable anxiety at leaving the highly supportive FE environment.