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What Is Further Education?

Sometimes we tend to look upon education as a hierarchy with universities at the very top. We have a subconscious belief that only the very brightest and the best ones get a degree and professional qualifications. Does further education play an essential role in this scheme? For an international student, it is quite hard to understand the education system of the UK with all its stages, exams, and courses. However, in this article, Coolessay’s masters will explain to you every nuance of further education, its meaning, benefits, and drawbacks.

Should you consider taking additional courses after high school? Do you have other options? How about the job right after school? We are going to look into every possible scenario.


Students at class


First of all, let’s define what further education is. It is an interim stage between secondary and higher education, which students enter at the age of 16 years old and end up when they are 18. There is one more thing that is worth mentioning – when we discuss the topic of further education, such countries as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are meant. The U.S. and European countries have different education branches.

So, how does the whole system of further education work? Once you have graduated high school and got the results of General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), you have at least two options: to get a post-secondary degree or land the job market straight away. Whether a scholar chose the first or second variant, he or she might consider further education.

System of Further Education

Whether you decided to get a university degree or seek a job position right after high school, further education aims to prepare you for that. If you want to pursue studies, further education is an excellent opportunity to make your academic resume more appealing to selective universities. What we can say for sure is that further education qualification means a higher chance for you to take a college or university seat. So, let’s make it clear.

There are four sections of further education that can be obtained by students aged 16-18 years old: academic qualifications, applied learning-qualifications, technical qualifications, and functional skills qualifications. Let us explain everything in order.

Academic Qualifications

Further education gives you an insight into what college is like without the enormous pressure. You have a timetable, you wear no uniform, you do assignments. Usually, academic qualifications (or courses) last for two years and cover from 2 to 5 subjects with the focus on three main classes, preparing you for major you are planning to apply to. For instance, if a student is willing to get higher education in engineering, academic qualification will include English, Math, and Physics classes.

To be precise, here is the list of academic qualification you can choose from:

1. A-Levels – are the most common qualifications which help students to get a basic knowledge of subjects for their future degree (the ones we were talking about above).

2. Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers – are a specific type of qualification for students who are planning to enroll a Scottish university. What is the difference between this one and A-levels? Here you are able to choose from 60 subjects and concentrate on four classes that are essentials for your degree.

3. General Certificate of Secondary Education – is an exam that students take when they graduate from high school. However, if a student their secondary does not score high in mandatory subjects like Science, Math or English, he or she is obliged to undertake GCSE qualification during the stage of Further Education.

Vocational Courses

In case you are planning to get a job right after secondary school, saving parents’ money and getting experience in young age, vocational courses are a perfect solution for you. In such a simple way, you will gain all the professional skills which are required to find a position in the industry you are interested in. Being a part of further education in the UK, vocational courses are also divided into Technical and Functional Skills Qualifications.

Getting Technical vocational qualification and set of practical skills, you will be qualified to do a specific job and have a full-time position in that industry. Functional skills qualifications are similar to academic qualifications, which can be obtained as part of traineeship or apprenticeship.

There is one more question to be answered: where can students attend further education courses? In the UK, they are offered at so-called “sixth form” colleges. Usually, such institutions can also prepare you for GCSE examination.


Yard full of students


Higher Education VS Further Education

You may wonder, “Why do I have to take further education courses when there is a chance to go to college after high school graduation?” Well, when it comes to education, the system of the UK works and functionates differently. In here, students terminate the secondary education at the age of 16, in contrast to most European countries where they graduate from high school being 18-year-olds. So, for the next two years, leaners have to decide which paths they are going to take in life.

Students with academic goals have a chance to choose specific further education courses to get into university, while others can select courses which prepares them for a specific job position. Further education is just a chance to fill in the blanks in your knowledge, whether you are going to university afterward or choosing a defined career path.

Do you want to get professional qualifications and experience in a particular industry? Are you eager to find a job right after high school graduation? Are you looking for the right pathway to higher education? If you have answered “Yes” to at least one of those questions, further education is an option you should consider. Get work experience, networking, student-centered learning, and high-quality provision in one place.

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