Orr, Kevin (2018) Further Education Colleges in the United Kingdom: Providing Education for Other People’s Children. In: Handbook of Comparative Studies on Community Colleges and Global Counterparts. Springer.

Further Education (FE) colleges have existed in towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom (UK) in some form for well over a century. They bear similarities with American Community Colleges and Australian TAFE colleges, but they are characterized by their diversity and by the breadth of their curriculum, which includes vocational, academic, and higher education courses. Their primary role has, however, always been the provision of work related courses, mainly for young people. Despite their size and apparent significance, FE colleges are often poorly understood by policy makers who have had little if any experience of these institutions which cater mainly to the less privileged in society. This chapter provides an overview and an analysis of FE colleges in all four nations of the UK, but it focuses mainly on England. It examines the history of these colleges to explain their very local roots, and it finds continuity in what has determined how colleges have developed up to the present day. English FE colleges have been subject to frenetic policy initiatives since the 1990s, and despite their ostensible independence they have been more and more tightly managed by central government agencies. The present juncture is an important one for the sector as FE colleges in the UK are currently facing major challenges due to sweeping cuts in funding. Yet, even if they have little control over their own future, FE colleges have continually demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to adapt and survive, mainly by providing individual students with the courses they choose to follow.

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