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Further education – Colleges and other institutions

Crowd walking in a corridor at University College London

You can study further education courses at a variety of institutions, including:

  • Schools: Many schools offer further education qualifications such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or Scottish Highers (for students aged 16–18), and vocational qualifications such as NVQs and SVQs.
  • Sixth form colleges: These colleges mainly cater for students aged 16–18 and specialise in academic courses to prepare students for higher education.
  • Further and higher education colleges: These colleges offer courses and qualifications in a wide range of vocational and academic subjects at many levels. Some specialise in particular industry sectors such as art and design, catering, engineering or finance. Further and higher education colleges often have links with companies, so that students studying vocational courses can combine classroom learning with valuable work experience. Many colleges design courses especially for students from other countries.
  • Private training providers: The UK offers a wide range of work-based training for students seeking to build careers in specific industries. Private training companies work with colleges and employers to provide practical training and internationally-respected qualifications in subjects such as engineering, construction, ICT and health and social care.
  • Universities: Universities mainly offer higher education courses, but many also offer a range of further education courses.

Finding the ‘top’ institutions

Many international students ask us to recommend the best UK schools, colleges and universities. There are a number of independent ranking systems – these can be useful, but bear in mind that they only tell part of the story.

We recommend that you consult a range of different sources to find a study centre that is right for you. For example, you may want to investigate how the institution performs in terms of:

  • Student satisfaction;
  • Student care;
  • Career prospects;
  • Cost;
  • Exam results; or
  • Teaching standards.

Many UK further education institutions also offer extensive resources and support for students with disabilities and special educational needs. Find out more in this article.

Click here to start searching for further education courses:


Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa to study in the UK. Find out if you need a visa here.

If you do need a visa, you must study at a school, college or university that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (the department of the UK government that manages visas).