Official statistics, right and below, give the most up-to-date picture of the sector's progress in England.
The further education sector comprises 452 colleges covering different types of study. They are: * general further education * tertiary * sixth-form (including former voluntary-aided and voluntary-controlled) * agriculture and horticulture * art and design * performing arts * fourteen specialist designated colleges.
The latter, which include the Northern College of Residential Adult Education and Ruskin College, recruit on a national basis in contrast to the predominantly local or regional recruitment of most other colleges.
As well as the colleges that make up the further education sector, there are some 50 higher education institutions, which deliver further education programmes, and some 300 other providers known as "external institutions", which are mainly local authority adult education centres. These also receive cash from the Further Education Funding Council.
* more than Pounds 2.8 billion in recurrent funding was allocated by the council to further education sector colleges, higher education institutions and external institutions in 1995/96 * the amount of funding allocated to all institutions increased by 9 per cent between 1994/95 and 1995/96 * further education sector colleges vary in size. Twenty-eight per cent of colleges have up to 2,000 students. Ten per cent have over 18,000 * 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 authorities; training and enterprise councils; employers; the Higher Education Funding Council for England; and tuition fees and charges.
* there were over three million further education students in 1994/95 * the majority of students in further education enrol on part-time programmes * most are on vocational programmes. Forty-eight per cent are on BTEC, City and Guilds, RSA or other vocational and professional qualification programmes; 20 per cent are on GCSE and GCE A/AS level courses * information from the funding council's individualised student record shows the distribution of students by level of qualification within the NVQ framework. Eighteen per cent are on foundation (level one) programmes; 23 per cent are on intermediate (level two) programmes; 31 per cent are advanced (level three) programmes; and 5 per cent are on level four/five or higher education programmes.
Participation in education by 16 to 18-year-olds
* overall participation in education by 16 to 18-year-olds increased by 15.5 percentage points between 1987/88 and 1994/95 * participation by 16 to 18-year-olds is higher in the further education sector than in either schools or higher education. Twenty-one per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds are in school sixth forms; 37 per cent are studying either full-time or part-time in further education; 7 per cent are in higher education.
Crossover between further and higher education
* a small proportion of students in the further education sector (169,000) are studying on higher education programmes - 5.5 per cent. These students are either on non-designated higher education programmes funded directly by the Further Education Funding Council (mainly Higher National Certificates), or they are on programmes funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England or on courses franchised to them by a neighbouring university * the programme area with the largest number of higher education students within the further education sector is business * some 50 universities and colleges of higher education run further education programmes funded by the FEFC. Thirty-six thousand students are enrolled on these courses * the programme area with the largest number of further education students studying in higher education institutions is art and design.