Further education colleges
As at 13 March 2017, there were 241 further education or sixth form colleges (FECs) delivering higher education. This includes providers that are directly funded by HEFCE and those that deliver higher education through a sub-contractual arrangement.
A majority of students at FECs are registered on undergraduate courses other than first degrees, such as foundation degrees, HNDs and HNCs. In 2016-17 this was more than three-quarters of all undergraduate students taught at FECs.
There have been increases in the number of students starting courses at all levels at FECs in the past decade, but the relative increase has been greatest for foundation degrees. The number of students starting these courses was 75 per cent higher in 2016-17 than in 2007-08.
There has also been a large increase in entrants to HND courses. The number of students starting HNDs increased by 10 per cent in 2016-17 compared with the previous year, and the number of entrants has more than doubled since 2010-11.
The scale of provision of higher education at FECs varies across regions. Accounting for population size, roughly three times as many students register on higher education courses in FECs in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber than in the London, South East and East of England regions.