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FECs are making an increasingly significant contribution to English higher education, and HEFCE’s analysis is an important step in understanding this. In 2010-11, just under 60,000 undergraduates were registered at 124 HEFCE-funded further education colleges [Note 2], almost half of the undergraduates taught at FECs in England [Note 3]. Until now, we have known little about the next career steps taken by these students.

The information in the report draws on responses to the ‘Higher Education in Further Education: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ (HE in FE DLHE) survey, focussing on responses made by students who completed their studies in 2010-11. It provides a comparison to findings published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) relating to the destinations of students registered at higher education institutions (HEIs) [Note 4]. It compares HE qualifiers registered at FECs with those registered at HEIs, both franchised and non-franchised.  Comparisons are also made with qualifiers included in the HE in FE DLHE surveys for 2009-10 and 2008-09.

The report shows that the destinations of those leavers registered at a HEFCE-funded FEC vary considerably depending on the type of undergraduate qualifications they obtained. Table 1 shows this variation among qualifiers solely engaged in employment, six months after leaving. It also shows that this variation exists within and, often to a lesser extent, across franchised and non-franchised leavers registered at HEIs.

Table 1: Proportion of undergraduate qualifiers in 2010-11 whose only activity six months after leaving was employment, by teaching arrangements

Mode of study

Undergraduate qualification obtained

% Registered at HEFCE-funded FEC

% Registered at HEI, taught at FEC (franchised)

% Registered and taught at HEI (non-franchised)

Full-time

First degree

64

68

62

Foundation degree

26

26

33

Other undergraduate qualification

32

36

65

Part-time

First degree

65

69

67

Foundation degree

50

45

53

Other undergraduate qualification

56

69

55

Tables 2 and 3 show the equivalent proportions for undergraduate qualifiers whose only activity six months after leaving was further study, and for undergraduate qualifiers who were undertaking a combination of employment and further study.

Table 2: Proportion of undergraduate qualifiers in 2010-11 whose only activity six months after leaving was further study, by teaching arrangements

Mode of study

Undergraduate qualification obtained

% Registered at HEFCE-funded FEC

% Registered at HEI, taught at FEC (franchised)

% Registered and taught at HEI (non-franchised)

Full-time

First degree

6

7

16

Foundation degree

31

45

43

Other undergraduate qualification

28

38

16

Part-time

First degree

4

8

5

Foundation degree

4

11

9

Other undergraduate qualification

3

5

9

Table 3: Proportion of undergraduate qualifiers in 2010-11 who were in a combination of employment and further study six months after leaving, by teaching arrangements

Mode of study

Undergraduate qualification obtained

% Registered at HEFCE-funded FEC

% Registered at HEI, taught at FEC (franchised)

% Registered and taught at HEI (non-franchised)

Full-time

First degree

9

8

8

Foundation degree

34

22

19

Other undergraduate qualification

27

15

8

Part-time

First degree

21

15

14

Foundation degree

40

39

34

Other undergraduate qualification

36

21

27

The report notes that, of the respondents to the 2010-11 survey who had obtained postgraduate qualifications from study registered at FECs, three-quarters had obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) [Note 6]. As might be anticipated given the purpose of the PGCE qualification, many more of these full-time postgraduate qualifiers reported that their only activity was employment (81 per cent) and many fewer were solely in further study (3 per cent).

Leavers obtaining HE qualifications from study registered at FECs had notably different destination profiles from those of equivalent qualifiers from HEIs. These differences are likely to relate, at least in part, to the characteristics of both the provision and the students registered at both types of institution.

HEFCE intends to develop further both the range of destinations information available relating to HE provision at FECs, and its understanding of the differences in the destinations of HE leavers from FECs in comparison with HEIs [Note 7]. 

Notes

  1. The report provides details of graduates’ employment, further study or training, six months after qualifying from higher education (HE) provision registered at HEFCE-funded further education colleges (FECs). Of the HE that takes place in FECs, HEFCE is empowered to fund only certain, prescribed courses. This is set out in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and the Education (Prescribed Courses of Higher Education) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 1998, which were amended to apply to England. All HE provision considered within the report for students registered or taught at FECs is prescribed HE delivered by HEFCE-funded FECs.
  2. The 59,500 undergraduates registered at 124 HEFCE-funded further education colleges comprise approximately 4 per cent of all undergraduates studying in England. Of these, around 36,000 were full-time, and around 23,500 were part-time.
  3. The remaining 60,000 undergraduates at FECs were franchised HE students. This means that they were registered at higher education institutions (HEIs), and have undertaken provision which is delivered by an FEC on behalf of a partner HEI. Under such franchising arrangements the student ‘belongs’ to the HEI as the registering institution: these students respond to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey rather than the HE in FE DLHE survey, and have been included within findings published in relation to the DLHE survey.
  4. The presentation of destinations information is intended to be broadly similar to the annual statistical first release published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in relation to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. The DLHE survey of leavers who obtained higher education (HE) qualifications from HEIs was established in 2002-03 and replaced the earlier First Destinations Survey. The annual surveys have sought information regarding a qualifier’s employment, further study or training, six months after qualifying. Comparisons made by this report with HE qualifiers registered at HEIs focus specifically on those registered at English HEIs.
  5. The population of qualifiers from HE provision registered at FECs in 2010-11 was made up of 23,275 students, of which 75 per cent responded to the HE in FE DLHE survey. While there were 5,900 qualifiers who did not respond to the survey at all, 3,165 of the responses received either indicated that a qualifier was deceased or comprised a qualifier explicitly refusing to provide information. Considering only those who provided a ‘full’ response to the HE in FE DLHE survey, the response rate was 61 per cent (14,210 students).
  6. Students qualifying with a PGCE represented 76 per cent of postgraduate qualifiers registered at FECs and responding to the HE in FE DLHE survey. This compares with 19 per cent among postgraduate qualifiers registered at HEIs and responding to the DLHE survey.
  7. It is intended that details of the destinations of leavers who obtained HE qualifications registered at FECs be produced regularly. HEFCE plans to publish details of the destinations of leavers in 2011-12 when the data become available in 2013. It is possible that the indicators recently published in ‘Widening participation and non-continuation indicators for further education colleges’ (HEFCE 2012/20) may be extended to include an indicator relating to the employment of leavers. The sector-adjusted averages provided alongside the data in those publications may develop further understanding of the differences in the destinations of HE leavers from FECs in comparison with HEIs.