Our guide to UK education: Colleges

At StudyWorld, you can meet the best of the world-leading UK education sector. Whether your needs are simple or complex, you’ll discover all the right contacts all under one roof.

Every part of our education sector will be represented at the QEII Centre in September, including universities, further education colleges, English language centres, boarding schools, exam boards, publishers, software suppliers and support services.

To help you meet the right people, we’ve created some short guides to our different sectors, explaining what they are, and what they can do for you.

This week: Colleges
What are they? There are 371 state colleges in the UK. They include further education colleges, sixth-form colleges and specialist colleges including those focusing on languages or performing arts.

Further education colleges provide high-quality technical and professional training for adults, teenagers and employers, sometimes up to degree level. Sixth-form colleges provide academic education to 16-19 year olds, which can lead to university or higher-level vocational education.

What do they offer? This varies from college to college. In general, colleges provide academic, vocational or specialist education to students aged over 16. Some have international departments teaching English alongside other courses, sometimes also working with international governments and employers to offer training wherever it is needed in the world. Colleges often work with employers in the UK to train staff, and some teach courses to degree level.

How do you find a quality provider? All UK state colleges are regularly inspected by the state inspectorates Ofsted (in England) Estyn (in Wales) Education Scotland or the Education and Training Directorate (Northern Ireland), and reports are available on their websites.

Case history: Sunderland College
Sunderland College is a further and higher education college based in the city of Sunderland in the North East of England. It has over 13,500 full-time and part-time students on four different sites, including at a Sports Academy and Arts Academy at Bede Campus and a new City Campus which opened in 2016. It offers a wide range of courses for 16-18 year-olds, adults and international students as well as Higher Education (degree level) courses. It also delivers courses with partner organisations around the world, welcomes international students, and runs an annual summer school. It is an English UK member, as it offers high-quality English language teaching (ELT).

Janette Donjon, director of international development at the college, is excited about what it can offer agents and other potential partners at StudyWorld. “I think more and more agents and governments are looking for other solutions to fill the skills gap and the language gap. Where colleges come into their own is on English plus courses. At Sunderland we have 45 different disciplines, and that’s very attractive when you can combine it with learning or improving English.

“There are skills gaps in emerging markets and colleges can offer the whole package, if they include English language teaching. I think there will be lots of opportunities to meet new players in the market at StudyWorld this year, and be able to meet in a more flexible way. It is also very exciting that StudyWorld and English UK are working with the Government’s Department of International Trade, which should lead to new opportunities to work at a high level to fill skills gaps around the world.”

Siobhan Baccas

Siobhán runs StudyWorld London, our world-famous annual student recruitment event.