Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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Further education

core definition

Further education is post-compulsory education at pre-degree level, which may include (the opportunity to take) qualifications also available at the level of compulsory schooling.

explanatory context

Not all countries distiguish two levels of post-compulsory education, such as the UK’s further and higher education. For example, in the US, community colleges, which are similar to UK further education colleges are regarded as part of the higher education sector. Furthermore, in the UK, for example, degree courses (or at least the early stages thereof) are taught in some further education colleges on a franchise arrangement with a higher eduction institution.

analytical review

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (undated) defines further education as:

Further education is for people over compulsory school age (currently 16 in England ) which does not take place in a secondary school. It may be in a sixth-form college, a further education college or a higher education institution. Further education courses are generally up to the standard of GCE A-level or NVQ Level 3.

The version of the HEFCE (undated) Glossary accessed 31 December 2016 reduces the definition by removing the second sentence.


New College Durham (undated) states:

Further education (FE) covers the types of education which go beyond what has been achieved in compulsory education, but which are not at degree level (Higher Education). Typically, further education includes A levels, AS levels and vocational qualifications.

The largest group of people in further education are those aged between 16 and 19, but many other people undertake full-time or part-time further education.We offer a wider range of courses than sixth form colleges and we provide education and training for students aged 19 and over, as well as for full-time 16 to 19 year olds.


The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (undated) states:

Further education: Formal learning that follows compulsory education, such as A levels, NVQs and Access to Higher Education courses. Some form of further education is normally required to qualify for entry to higher education.

Further education colleges: Colleges including sixth-form colleges and specialist colleges that provide further education and training for school leavers and adults (also known as 'further education institutions' in Wales and Northern Ireland). Some such colleges also deliver higher education programmes leading to qualifications from other degree-awarding bodies and/or may have powers to award Foundation Degrees.

associated issues

related areas

See also

community college

higher education


Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 27 August 2012, shorter definition accessed 31 December 2016, not available 20 June 2019.

New College Durham, undated, Parents' Information, available at, accessed 31 August 2012, page not available 3 December 2017.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 3 January 2017, not available 20 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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