Thousands of students shun universities in favour of studying for their degrees at local further education colleges

The Independent is reporting that  thousands of students are shunning the UK’s traditional universities to take their degrees in further education colleges down the road…

The number of undergraduates in FE colleges rose 11.8 per cent in the two years up to 2012-13 while traditional universities suffered a drop.

This rise is partly explained by the Government’s relaxation of student recruitment curbs, allowing institutions to recruit as many students as they wanted with an A- and two B-grade passes at  A-level last year, which allowed 3,000 more students into further education colleges.

In all, there are an estimated 115,000 students studying for their degree courses at FE colleges.

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said that the colleges were tapping into two “cold spots” for university applicants.

“The first is geographical – colleges where there is no university in the vicinity,” he said. “There will be a number of students who, for various reasons, wish to study closer to home.” So, in towns up and down the land, such as Truro, Skipton, Blackpool and Grimsby, the local FE college is, in effect, the local university.

“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,” he said. “There are some students for whom the small classroom is preferable to the lecture theatre.”…

Lower fees are another major factor. While most universities charge the maximum £9,000 a year for all of their courses, many FE colleges are charging between £4,000 and £6,000 a year for degree courses. Some do charge more than £6,000 and even approach the £9,000 ceiling, but this is likely to be for courses that are more expensive to put on – such as agriculture, engineering and social work…

More (including insights from staff and students) at: Thousands of students shun universities in favour of studying for their degrees at local further education colleges

 

Not the first time we’ve covered this idea but certainly an interesting development. Any feedback from those who have been through this route (or know people who have)?

 

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