Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom and Ireland is education in addition to that received at secondary school, that is distinct from the higher education (HE) offered in universities and other academic institutions. It may be at any level in compulsory secondary education, from entry to higher level qualifications such as awards, certificates, diplomas and other vocational, competency-based qualifications (including those previously known as NVQ/SVQs) through awarding organisations including City and Guilds, Edexcel (BTEC) and OCR. FE colleges may also offer HE qualifications such as HNC, HND, foundation degree or PGCE. The colleges are also a large service provider for apprenticeships where most of the training takes place at the apprentices' workplace, supplemented with day release into college.
FE in the United Kingdom is usually a means to attain an intermediate, advanced or follow-up qualification necessary to progress into HE, or to begin a specific career path outside of university education. Further Education is offered to students aged over 16 at colleges of Further Education, through work-based learning, or adult and community learning institutions.
In the United States and Canada, the term continuing education has a similar meaning.
Further education colleges were laid out in the Education Act 1944. In the 1960s, A-level students predominantly studied at school rather than colleges (often referred to as "techs" at that time). More types of colleges were introduced over the next decades, and by 1990 colleges took in almost half of A-level students.
Colleges in England are corporate bodies under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, which removed further education colleges from local government control.Types of college include:
Policies relating to colleges are primarily the responsibility of the Department for Education (DfE). Until July 2016, colleges were also covered by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS); on the abolition of BIS and formation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), responsibility for FE colleges moved to DfE.The regulatory body for sixth form colleges was already DfE prior to the 2016 changes.
Following the merger of the Education Funding Agency and the Skills Funding Agency in 2017,funding for colleges is provided through the Education and Skills Funding Agency for all further education students.
The Technical and Further Education Act 2017 laid out a framework for an insolvency regime for further education colleges known as "Education Administration". This is a form of corporate administration adapted to the needs of further education, to be used "where a further education body is unable to pay its debts or is likely to become unable to pay its debts" and intended "to avoid or minimise disruption to the studies of the existing students of the further education body as a whole".
All colleges and FE providers are subject to inspection by Ofsted, which monitors the quality of provision in publicly funded institutions in England and Wales. Membership organisations for providers include the Association of Colleges and the Sixth Form Colleges' Association.
Further education in Northern Ireland is provided through seven multi-campus colleges.Northern Ireland's Department for Employment and Learning has the responsibility for providing FE in the province.
Most secondary schools also provide a sixth form scheme whereby a student can choose to attend for two additional years to complete their AS and A-levels.
Scotland's further education colleges provide education for those young people who follow a vocational route after the end of compulsory education at age 16. They offer a wide range of vocational qualifications to young people and older adults, including vocational, competency-based qualifications (previously known as SVQs), Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas. Frequently, the first two years of higher education – usually in the form of an HND – are taken in an FE college, followed by attendance at university.
Further education in Wales is provided through:
Further education in Wales comes under the remit of the Welsh Assembly Government. Funding came from Education and Learning Wales from 2000 until 2006, when that organisation was merged with the Assembly.
Further education in the Republic of Ireland is similar to that offered in the UK. Typical areas include apprenticeships and other vocational qualifications in many disciplines, such as childcare, farming, retail, and tourism. The many types of further education awards are known as Post Leaving Certificates.
Further education has expanded immensely in recent years,[ when? ] helped by the institutions and their relationships with their communities. Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), which was established in November 2012, is the regulator for FE qualifications.
Vocational education is education that prepares people to work as a technician or to take up employment in a skilled craft or trade as a tradesperson or artisan. Vocational education is sometimes referred to as career and technical education.
Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom's Department for Education. Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and state-funded schools at a local level.
Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom having separate systems under separate governments: the UK Government is responsible for England; whilst the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively.
Education in Scotland is overseen by the Scottish Government and it's executive agency Education Scotland. Education in Scotland has a history of universal provision of public education, and the Scottish education system is distinctly different from those in the other countries of the United Kingdom. The Scotland Act 1998 gives the Scottish Parliament legislative control over all education matters, and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 is the principal legislation governing education in Scotland. Traditionally, the Scottish system at secondary school level has emphasised breadth across a range of subjects, while the English, Welsh and Northern Irish systems have emphasised greater depth of education over a smaller range of subjects.
Education in Wales differs in certain respects from education elsewhere in the United Kingdom. For example, a significant minority of students all over Wales are educated either wholly or largely through the medium of Welsh: in 2014/15, 15.7% of children and young people received Welsh-medium education - a drop from the 15.9% in 2010/11. An additional 10% attend schools which had a significant portion of the curriculum is bilingual. The study of the Welsh language is available to all age groups through nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and in adult education. The study of the language is compulsory for all pupils in State Schools until the age of 16.
A foundation degree is a combined academic and vocational qualification in higher education, equivalent to two thirds of an honours bachelor's degree, introduced by the government of the United Kingdom in September 2001. Foundation degrees are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, offered by universities or colleges with their own foundation degree awarding powers, and by colleges and employers running courses validated by universities.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority is the executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for accrediting educational awards. It is partly funded by the Education and Lifelong Learning Directorate of the Scottish Government, and employs approximately 750 staff based in Glasgow and Dalkeith.
A sixth form college is an educational institution, where students aged 16 to 19 typically study for advanced school-level qualifications, such as A Levels, Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, or school-level qualifications such as General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations. In Singapore and India, this is known as a junior college. The municipal government of the city of Paris uses the phrase ’sixth form college’ as the English name for a lycée.
Swansea College was a further education college in Swansea. It was one of the largest further education colleges in Wales with over 15,000 students and employing approximately 1,000 staff. Swansea College merged with Gorseinon College on 20 August 2010 to create a single sixth form and further education college for the Swansea area called Gower College Swansea.
Furness College is a college of further education in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. It provides a wide range of A levels, vocational education and skills training to over 16s, notably working with BAE Systems to train apprentices for their shipyard in Barrow. The college also offers courses for adults, and runs HNDs and other higher education programmes including foundation degrees, degrees and master's degrees, for which it achieved Teaching Excellence Framework silver status in June 2017. It is the only college in Barrow and the largest further education college in Cumbria. On 1 August 2016, Furness College merged with Barrow Sixth Form College.
Bridgend College is a further education college based in Bridgend, Wales. Founded in 1928 as the Bridgend Mining and Technical Institute, the college today has four campuses in Bridgend, Pencoed, Queens Road and Maesteg.
Solihull College & University Centre, formerly called Solihull College of Technology, is a further education college located in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, in the West Midlands, England. The College has two main campuses; the Blossomfield Campus in central Solihull and the Woodlands Campus based in Smith's Wood, north Solihull. The Principal of the College is John Callaghan.
Selby College is a tertiary college, offering A Level courses through its Sixth Form Academy, work-related vocational courses, apprenticeships, business training and adult education courses. It is located in Selby, North Yorkshire, England. The College is a provider of A levels and vocational education for sixteen to eighteen year olds. Selby provides apprenticeships, higher education including foundation degrees, honours degrees and HND/HNC level qualifications as well as workforce training.
In the UK education sector, there are a wide range of qualification types offered by the United Kingdom awarding bodies. Qualifications range in size and type, can be academic, vocational or skills-related, and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, which are on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and are awarded by bodies with degree awarding powers, and Regulated qualifications, which are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and are accredited by Ofqual in England, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland and Qualifications Wales in Wales. In Scotland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications and Scottish Vocational Qualifications/Modern Apprenticeships, all of which are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Scottish Higher Education Qualifications are on both the SCQF and the FHEQ.
In England, learning and skills refers typically to post-compulsory education and training, provided by further education and sixth form colleges, schools with sixth forms, local authority and adult education institutions, private and voluntary sector providers, offender learning, and workplace learning including Apprenticeships and other employer-facing initiatives. The learning and skills sector is vital to increasing productivity, economic competitiveness and sustainable employment in the UK
Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are a set of courses and qualifications run in Ireland for students who have finished their secondary education. The term refers to post-secondary education courses which are not found within the higher education sector, but the further education sector in Ireland.The majority of students who enrol on a PLC course are under 23, but mature students are also welcome, and increasingly enrolling on such courses. A Post-Leaving Certificate course is taken after a student has passed their Leaving Certificate, and is generally between one and two years in duration. PLC courses are aimed primarily at students who would like to develop vocational or technological skills in order to enter an occupation, or progress to higher education.
The Department for Education (DFE), also known as the Education Department is the U.K. government department responsible for child protection, education, apprenticeships and wider skills in England.
Higher education accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of post-secondary educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. If standards are met, accredited status is granted by the agency.
Education in Jersey is overseen by the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills. The Government is responsible for all Government-maintained schools on the island, including the Further Education College, Highlands College, as well as the fee-paying schools of Victoria College and Jersey College for Girls. There are also independent schools and religious schools, including De La Salle College, Beaulieu Convent School and St Michael's School.
The national qualification frameworks in the United Kingdom are qualifications frameworks that define and link the levels and credit values of different qualifications.