What is Further Education?
Further education – or abbreviated to FE – includes any study after secondary education that’s not part of higher education (that is, not taken as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree).
FE – further education – colleges offer a much wider range of courses than at sixth form colleges or schools, ranging from basic English and maths to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs). Most do offer A-levels, the same as sixth form colleges and schools, but also have a huge number of other qualifications available in different subjects and at different levels.
Level 1 qualifications are fairly basic, building confidence and providing an introduction to a subject, industry or area of work. They include, for example, NVQ Level 1, BTEC Introductory Certificates and OCR Nationals which are roughly equivalent to GCSEs gained at grades 3 to 1. You would need qualifications at this level before progressing to level 2.
Level 2 qualifications (eg. NVQ level 2 and BTEC First) give a deeper understanding of a subject or area of work and are roughly equivalent to GCSEs at grades 9 to 4. Many employers like young people to have a Level 2 qualification as a minimum.
Level 3 qualifications include A and AS-levels, NVQ Level 3, BTEC Nationals, Advanced and Progression Diplomas. This level is almost always required for entry to university and many employers will be looking for Level 3 in applicants for more technical or supervisory roles.
Levels 4 to 8 may also be available in your local college but are classed as ‘higher’ rather than ‘further’ education. They include Foundation degrees, HND/HNC courses, Honours degrees and postgraduate or professional qualifications at a high level.
Not all colleges, however, will offer the same variety of subjects and courses, so it’s very important to check carefully what is available locally.
FE / further education funding
Many courses in reading, writing and basic maths are free, and you may not have to pay for tuition if you’re under 24 and studying for your first qualification equivalent to GCSE or A-level.
FE / further education students may be able to get help with the costs of:
- Their course
- Their day-to-day living costs
- Childcare for any dependents
Depending on your circumstances and the subject you’re studying, you may qualify for Discretionary Learner Support
- Residential Support Scheme
- Care to Learn
- Dance and Drama Awards
- Professional and Career Development Loans
- 16 to 19 Bursary Fund
Useful links and websites:
- Interactive quizzes plus lesson plans including Apprenticeships and STEM careers – https://www.com
- Advice from the Russell Group about choosing post 16 subject choices – http://russellgroup.ac.uk/for-students/school-and-college-in-the-uk/subject-choices-at-school-and-college/
- Guide to careers, education and student life – https://www.brightknowledge.org/
- News site related to further education and issues related to the sector – https://www.fenews.co.uk/
- Explore career options and progression routes plus pathway teaching resources – http://icould.com/teachersresources/
- UCAS Progress resources for teachers and advisers – https://www.ucas.com/ucas/16-18-choices/help-and-support/teachers-and-advisers/ucas-progress-resources
- gov.uk/further-education-courses lists of courses, financial support available
- opendays.com – list of events for education establishments
- craven-college.ac.uk – various courses available
- leedscitycollege.com – various campuses including: Park Lane, Thomas Danby, Horsforth, South Leeds, Technology Campus, Leeds College of Music, Leeds College of Art.
- bradfordcollege.ac.uk – various campuses and courses available
- notredame.ac.uk – various courses and campuses available
- askhambryan.ac.uk – various courses and campuses available
- nelson.ac.uk – Nelson and Colne College – various courses available
- burnley.ac.uk – Burnley College – various courses available
- keighleycollege.ac.uk – various courses available