Growing number of students turning to further education colleges

February 4th, 2015 Category: Colleges and Higher Education

A growing number of students are shunning university in favour of further education colleges, according to new findings.

Official figures show that the number of undergraduates in Further Education (FE) colleges rose 11.8 per cent in the two years up to 2012-2013.

During the same period however, the number of students signing up to traditional universities declined.

Statistics show that an estimated 115,000 students are studying for their degree courses at FE college.

The rise in the number of students studying at further education colleges is thought to be due to the government's scrapping of recruitment limits which meant that institutions could enlist as many students as they wanted with an A- and two B-grade passes at A-level last year.

This meant that an additional 3,000 pupils were able to get into further education.

Speaking about the findings, Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, told the Independent: "Also, consistently strongly, in terms of student feedback, they like the greater one-on-one contact you have with your lecturer at a FE college. There are some students for whom the small classroom is preferable to the lecture theatre.”

Students are also attracted to the lower fees that many colleges charge, as many charge between £4,000 and £6,000 a year for degree courses, rather than the standard £9,000 levied by universities.

Mr Doel added that many colleges also had more appeal to students because they were able to offer subjects specifically tailored to certain professions.

"Some colleges are doing what the old polytechnics used to do. You’re seeing increasing interest among colleges in providing that. They’ll see it as moving forwards, whereas the new universities (former polytechnics) will see it as moving backwards and universities don’t want to move backwards," he told the Independent.