Further education

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Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom and Ireland, similar to continuing education in the United States, is a term used to refer to education (in addition to that received at secondary school), that is distinct from the higher education offered in universities. It may be at any level above compulsory secondary education, from basic skills training to higher vocational qualifications such as PGCE, NVQ, City and Guilds, BTEC, HNC, HND or Foundation Degree.

A distinction is usually made between FE and higher education HE, an education at a higher level than secondary school, usually provided in distinct institutions such as universities. FE in the United Kingdom is usually a means to attain an intermediate or follow up qualification necessary to attend university, or begin a specific career path, e.g. Quantity Surveyor, Town Planner or Veterinary Surgeon, for anyone over 16, primarily available at Colleges of Further Education, work-based learning, or adult and community learning institutions.

Further education by country


In Australia, technical and further education or TAFE /ˈtf/ "Sometimes known as Technical and Continuing Education TACE" Are institutions provide a wide range of predominantly vocational tertiary education courses, mostly qualifying courses under the National Training System/Australian Qualifications Framework/Australian Quality Training Framework. Fields covered include hospitality, tourism, construction, engineering, secretarial skills, visual arts, information technology and community work.

Individual TAFE institutions (usually with many campuses) are known as either colleges or institutes, depending on the state or territory. TAFE colleges are owned, operated and financed by the various state and territory governments. This is in contrast to the higher education sector, whose funding is predominantly the domain of the Commonwealth government and whose universities are predominantly owned by the state governments.

United Kingdom


Further education (FE) colleges in England provide high-quality technical and professional education and training for young people, adults and employers. They prepare over three million students with valuable skills for the workplace, helping to develop their career opportunities and strengthen the local, regional and national economy.

Colleges are inspirational places to learn because education and training is delivered by expert teaching staff in industry-standard facilities. From basic skills to postgraduate degrees, colleges offer first rate academic and vocational teaching, in a range of professions including engineering, hospitality, IT, construction and the creative arts.

Colleges in England are incorporated under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. These include:

  • General further education colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Land-based colleges
  • Specialist designated colleges
  • Art, design and performing art colleges

Colleges are primarily covered by two Government departments:

Funding for colleges is provided through the Education Funding Agency (EFA) (for students up to 18 years old) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) (for students aged 19 and over).

All colleges and FE providers are subject to regular inspections by Ofsted.

Colleges in England are represented by the Association of Colleges.

Northern Ireland

Further education in Northern Ireland is provided through six multi-campus colleges [1]. 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 said school for 2 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 SVQs, Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas. Frequently, the first two years of higher education, usually in the form of an HND can be 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 and was formerly funded by ELWa before its merger with the Assembly.


Ireland has further education colleges.

See also


External links