Further education in England: the facts

March 17, 1995

(Photograph) - Official statistics giving the most up-to-date information on the further education sector in England. The further education sector comprises 456 general further education colleges, tertiary colleges, sixth-form colleges (including former voluntary-aided and voluntary-controlled), agriculture and horticulture colleges, art and design and performing arts colleges and 14 specialist designated colleges.

The specialist designated colleges such as the Northern College of Residential Adult Education and Ruskin College recruit on a national basis in contrast to the predominantly local recruitment of most other colleges.

In addition to further education sector colleges, there are some 50 higher education institutions with further education work and some 400 other providers known as "external institutions", which are mainly local authority adult education centres also receiving cash from the Further Education Funding Council in 1994/95.

College information

* more than Pounds 2.6 billion in recurrent funding was allocated by the council to further education sector colleges, higher education institutions and external institutions in 1994/95 (figure 1)

* there are more than 450 further education colleges in England (figure 2). More than 60 per cent of colleges are general further education and tertiary colleges, 25 per cent are sixth-form colleges and the remainder are specialist art and design, agriculture and horticulture or designated colleges

* further education colleges vary in size (figure 3) both in terms of enrolments and full-time equivalents (FTEs). Thirty per cent of colleges had more than 18,000 enrolments. In terms of FTEs, 30 per cent of colleges have up 1,000 FTEs and 8 per cent have more than 5,000 FTE

* the proportion of income colleges receive from the council is around 90 per cent on average for sixth-form colleges, 71 per cent for tertiary colleges, 65 per cent for general further education colleges, 52 per cent for art, design and performing arts colleges, and 45 per cent for agriculture and horticulture colleges. The remaining income comes from a number of sources including education contracts with local education authorities, Training and Enterprise Councils, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, as well as tuition fees and charges Student information

* the majority of students in sixth form colleges are enrolled on full-time full-year programmes (figure 4). Students in other colleges in the further education sector are enrolled on a mixture of part-time and full-time programmes

* students in sixth-form colleges are mainly studying humanities, science, business and art and design subjects. Humanities includes foreign languages. In further education and tertiary colleges, there is a much wider distribution of students between programme areas. Students in other specialist colleges are studying on programmes that reflect the specialism of the college (figure 7)

Note that the total enrolments in figure 7 differ from figure 4 because of differences in institutional coverage and time period.

* a small amount of provision in further education colleges, some 5 per cent, is of higher education courses (figure 5)

* more than half of students in further education colleges study for vocational qualifications. A further quarter study for GCEs and GCSEs. Comparable information is not yet available for sixth-form colleges, however, the great majority are studying for GCE A levels

* 74 per cent of students in further education are adults, the majority of these are young adults. Men and women are fairly evenly represented up to the age of 24. At 25 and over, women outnumber men (figure 6). Comparable information is not yet available for sixth-form colleges, however, the great majority of students in sixth-form colleges are aged 16 to 18 Participation

* overall participation in education by 16 to 18-year-olds increased 15 percentage points from 1987/88 to 1993/94. Full-time participation by 16 to 18-year-olds is increasing in all institutions whereas part-time participation on FE courses is decreasing (figure 9)

Note that sixth-form colleges are excluded from figure 6, 8 and 9 as the data source for these tables is the further education statistical record (FESR) which sixth form colleges do not return.

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