FE colleges play huge part in increasing access to Higher Education

Further Education colleges play huge part in increasing access to Higher Education

Earlier this year, RCU produced over 200 ‘College Higher Education Local Impact Summary’ (CHELIS) reports which were sent out to all GFE colleges across England who deliver higher education. For the second year running these reports, commissioned by the Education & Training Foundation were specifically designed to support colleges with higher education curriculum planning and provide an understanding of their impact within the local area.

Using data derived from these individual college CHELIS reports, we have also developed a new national level report which updates and extends the analysis of college-based higher education in England first produced in March 2016. This national report has now been published by the Education & Training Foundation and is available on their website.

The national report provides a useful insight into college based higher education as a whole and reveals the extent to which it differs from University provision in meeting local economic and social needs. It highlights the increasing value of college-based higher education in widening participation by bringing it closer to students’ homes.

Some key findings from the analysis

  • There are 151,360 higher education learners studying at FE colleges.
  • College based HE students are more local, travelling on average 15 miles to study compared with 53 miles for HEI’s.
  • The number of higher level apprenticeships has increased from just over 7,000 to more than 16,000 in three years.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enrolments in FE colleges at Levels 4 and 5 have grown by 5.7% from 30,830 to 32,690 in the past three years.

Helen Pettifor, Director of Professional Standards and Workforce Development at the ETF, said “This research demonstrates the increasingly important role that FE colleges will play in making higher education more accessible – and widening participation for learners from all backgrounds. Our report shows that for many learners, studying at a college locally is a popular choice as it allows them to keep travel and living costs down – and offers more flexibility. Thjs is also beneficial for mature students who want to study for a degree without having to move away from their family or need to combine employment commitments.

“In line with this research, we want to ensure that all teachers and trainers are equipped with the skills and knowledge for teaching higher education in FE colleges which is why we are developing a range of online modules, to be launched in the autumn term.”

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here, as well as a copy of last year’s CHELIS report