Definition - Further and Higher Education

For the sake of ease the Wiki splits into Further Education and Universities. There is much cross over in actuality, but by splitting them this way it is easier to review the different impact on the different types of institutions. The rule of thumb is:

  • Further Education is level 1 through to level 3:
    • GCSEs are level 2
    • Diplomas are level 2
    • A-Levels are level 3
    • Extended diplomas are Level 3
  • Higher Education is level 4 through to 7
    • HNC - Level 4
    • HND - level 5
    • Degree - level 6
    • Masters - Level 7

Where these qualifications fall in terms of education becomes more complicated. For example teachers may get a payrise, but it will not be given to tutors in colleges. In that case a teacher with a sixth form class teachhing A-Levels will receive a payrise while the tutor teaching GCSEs and A-Levels will not. In theory Degrees are taught at universities, but it may well be that a college also has some degree subjects.

Spending cuts

Funding for 16- to 18-year-olds and for general further education has been cut much more sharply than funding for schools, pre-school or higher education.

  • Since 2010–11, funding per student aged 16–18 in further education (college based) has fallen by 8% in real terms and is now at about the same level as during the late 2000s
  • Funding per student in school sixth forms has fallen by 21% since its peak in 2010–11, and remains lower than at any point since at least 2002–03
  • Funding for adult education (anybody 19 or over) has been cut by 45% since 2009–10, which has mostly been delivered through fewer adult learners taking qualifications at GCSE level or below

The overall number of 19+ learners has “fallen substantially”, from 4.7 million in 2004 to 2.2 million in 2016. Although the government has committed extra funds for the introduction of T-levels (apprenticeships) – amounting to about £115 million in 2019-20 and growing to £445 million by 2021-22 – an IFS report warned that “the new money for T-levels and the proposed cuts to the rest of the FE college budget offset each other almost exactly”, meaning that spend per learner is unlikely to increase. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) concluded that spending on further education and skills fell by £3.3bn in real terms between 2010-11 and 2017-18. [1].

There is rising concern with the number of further education colleges needing emergency government bailouts. In 2017 £57m of emergency funding was provided to help colleges in England. As the number of students in further education drops, so does the per student funding from government [2].

  1. Severe squeeze on further education and sixth-form funding in England, IFS, 17 September 2018:
  2. Further education college finances face double whammy, BBC, 17 September 2018:

Management wages

Further Education colleges are businesses and employ CEOs. Executive pay can be as much as 10 times that of a tutor at a college. For example 12 colleges pay their CEOs salaries of more than £200,000, with Judith Doyle, CEO of Gateshead College, earning £344,000 per year. The CEO role does not replace the position of Principle in a college and can mean that between just two executive staff the college has a wage bill of over £400,000. This sum would employ an additional 12 tutors [1] [2].

  1. Best-paid college principals in England revealed, TES, 05 April 2019:
  2. ESFA financial management: college accounts,, 5 April 2019:


The University and College Union says between 2010 and 2017 more than 23,000 posts have been lost in FE colleges in England, amounting to a third of the teaching staff overall. [1][2]

  1. Government’s treatment of college staff is ‘disgraceful’, Jeremy Corbyn tells protest, Independent, 17 October 2018:
  2. Further education college finances face double whammy, BBC, 17 September 2018: