Further education at 16+

Eleven good reasons to choose a FE College course

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i stock 14

1. Lots of Choice

Most colleges offer a wide range of courses and qualifications, often called 'study programmes'.

Study programmes include a main subject, tutorial support and, where required, additional English and maths.

Study programmes can include:

Look at a college's website to see the wide range of courses on offer. See an example of the range of course a college offers.

Video showing example of what a college offers - Truro and Penwith

2. Variety

As well as general courses, colleges often have a specialist area

It is definitely worth visiting a few colleges for Open Days as their facilities, campuses and specialist areas will vary.

For example, Wiltshire College has a site at Lackham which offers courses in Animal Science and Management, Equine Management, Agriculture and Motor Sports Engineering. Whereas, Bridgwater College offers Fish Husbandry and Management and an Access to Nuclear Apprenticeship Course.

Some colleges specialise in certain subjects such as agriculture, boat building, etc.

See this video about Aeronautical Engineering at City of Bristol College

3. There is a starting point for everybody

Even if you have few qualifications

Lots of people are successful at college, and go on to get top jobs, even if they did not get great qualifications at school. Although, many courses have set entry requirements, there is a starting point for all students, even if they have few qualifications. Most colleges offer study programmes from entry level (where no previous qualifications are required) through to degree level study. An interest in the subject you want to take can be as important as your qualifications. For example, a passion for cooking and food could be your passport to a place on a catering course!

4. Progression through different qualifications

At a FE College students can progress from foundation or entry level courses all the way up to degree level and professional qualifications. (see all qualification levels in a table).

Each qualification level will have different entry requirements. In most subject areas, you can move from one level to the next level and work your way up (including to higher education level).

All full time courses require students to continue learning maths and English towards a qualification such as a GCSE or Functional Skills qualification, if they do not have an existing GCSE or equivalent at A*-C grade (or 4-9 in the new grading system!). Whilst this is a government requirement, it is also important for future employment opportunities and for application to most Higher Education (i.e. degree) courses.

5. Practical Learning

Depending on what course you are doing you may be:

As courses like beauty therapy and catering are job related you will be expected to wear a uniform and order your own kit before starting college.

Customer Service is a key part of many industry-related study programmes to ensure all students leave job ready.

There are still exams and written assignments at college but there are also courses that include practical assessments where you will be assessed in a realistic work environment.

6. Employability Skills

Most FE courses also give students the opportunity to develop their employability skills through; work experience, attending careers fairs, visiting employers, pitching an idea to a Dragon's Den, or getting help starting their own business. Many colleges have restaurants or hair salons which are open to the public so that students can experience a real work environment with tutor supervision.

You might also be invited to take part in World Skills where you compete against other colleges across the UK for a chance to represent the UK in a World Skills event.

7. Help and Support

Colleges are proud of being diverse, inclusive and safe places to learn and there are lots of people who can help and support you in the college.

Most colleges also provide support for students hoping to progress to Higher Education; supporting students in making university applications through UCAS and researching their degree level options

8. Great Facilities

Most colleges have great facilities, such as:

Library or Resources Centre

Wi-Fi throughout the campus, pcs, multimedia resources, magazines, books and access to elibrary and elearning resources, from home or college, to help you study.


Most FE colleges have Virtual Learning Environments for students to access on campus and remotely. 

Food and refreshments
Meet and eat in the friendly atmosphere of various college coffee shops or restaurants.

Student Common Room

For students to relax and socialise. It may have a coffee shop, pool table, table football, music, television, etc.

Other facilities

Depending on what courses the college offers you may have access to a theatre, gym, sports facilities, gardens, cheap haircuts, beauty treatments, etc!

9. Different from school.

10. Lots of Other Activities

Sign up to get involved in lots of activities such as; the college sports teams and academies, clubs such as film or knitting, volunteer with Duke of Edinburgh and National Citizen Service, stand for election in the Student Union, etc. Most colleges shape their extra-curricular offer according to their students’ views and interests and actively encourage students to start their own clubs and societies. If a college does not currently run a club that reflects your interest, there may be support for you to set it up – that looks great on a CV or university application!

11. Increase your earning power

The more you earn is linked to the more you learn so getting a qualification through a FE College will increase your earning power.

Government data shows that 3 years after achieving a further education qualification, average earnings of an advanced apprenticeship in engineering increased from £24,800 1 year after study to £30,300 3 years after study.

The government research also shows that the average earnings of a person who achieves a Level 2 Apprenticeship is 11% higher 3 to 5 years after qualifying than someone who starts the qualification but does not achieve it.

A new drive to ensure everyone has maths and English at GCSE or above, also means that employers are increasingly including this in their entry requirements for their jobs.

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