Where will I teach?
This chapter describes the shape and scope of further education (FE) colleges and gives particular emphasis to their diversity. At the time of writing, there were some 440 FE colleges in England, 47 in Scotland, 27 in Wales and 17 in Northern Ireland. These figures are subject to change because, much more so than in the case of schools and universities, colleges are subject to merger and even closure. In 1999/2000, there were 3.8 million students enrolled in colleges in England, 434, 435 in Scotland, 224, 100 in Wales, and 150,000 in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of these students are over the age of 19 and studying part-time. In England, 80 per cent of FE students are over the age of 19 and the number of part-time students is increasing (LSC, 2001a). The FE sector comprises colleges which can be classified under five headings:
• general FE and tertiary colleges; • sixth form colleges; • specialist designated colleges; • colleges of Art and Design and the Performing Arts; • agriculture and horticulture.