Information for Further Education Students (UK)

For anyone thinking about joining a Further Education (FE) course, go for it! Once you have received your GCSE (or equivalent) results then I fully recommend seeking out further education. It is honestly an incredible experience and definitely worth your time. You make new friends, learn about your chosen work industry and get firsthand exclusive experiences. However, there are a few things you need to remember beforehand.

What is Further Education (FE)?

Further education is any topic of study after secondary school that is not a degree. An overview of technical and applied qualifications for 16-19 year olds, include:

  • Entry level.
  • Level 2.
  • Level 3.
  • Vocational Qualifications – English, Maths and ICT.

Individuals above the 16-19 year old age range can also study for further education. They are just called mature students. These qualifications are provided by a range of awarding bodies including, City and Guilds, Edexcel (BTEC) and OCR.


An apprenticeship is a mix of on-the-job training and classroom learning. It is a ‘learn as you go’ programme. Luckily, there are a lot of FE institutions that provide apprenticeships. These are fantastic options to take if you do not want to do a full-time course at college. It is something that enhances your skills, develops new workplace connections and improves your knowledge of the industry.

As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are subject to a wide range of opportunities. They provide you with the skills you need that can lead to nationally recognised qualifications. These are real jobs for real people.

Your Interview and Personal Statement:

Now, I know a lot of students often put a lot of effort into their interview and personal statement with lecturers and really work for it, which is fantastic!

However, some do not, and this is a problem. What you must remember is even though it is the lecturers job to interview you, they can turn you away if they do not think you will put 100% effort into the course. These lecturers want to know why you should join their course. What makes you different from other students? What skills do you have that will benefit you on the course? Small bits of information like that will be of great use to you during this stage.

If you turn-up for an ‘easy qualification,’ then you are better off leaving, because no part of the course is that easy, I can guarantee you. Just think, lecturers have hundreds of students to interview, so by the end of one week and the beginning of the next, they will feel a bit like this:

Picture by: Meme Generator (2017). Imgflip.

Personal Statement:

A college personal statement explains why you are applying to be on the course and why you think you are well-suited to it. This is your opportunity to sell yourself to those who are considering your application. You are being asked to write a few paragraphs telling the college why they should offer you a place.

In no more than 500 words, you want to persuade the reader that you have the qualities necessary to perform well on the course. This means you need to think of examples that best demonstrate your abilities. It is important then to include specific parts in your personal statement and these include:

Why have you chosen to apply? – You might be applying because you want to purse your future career, you may have strong interest in the subject and want to learn more or the course may help you to progress to a higher level of study.

What makes you suitable? – The lecturers want to know that you will be well-suited to the demands of the course. Therefore, they want to hear about your experience, interests and skills. Think about activities in and out of school and how they are relevant to the course you are applying for. Example – You could have played in a sports team, are a member of a club or society, have participated in volunteering projects or held a position of responsibility – such as a leader etc. You then need to explain how these activities have prepared you for the course you have applied for.

Remember, you want to show them that you understand what the course involves and that you have the skills and experience to perform well in it, therefore, research of the course beforehand would be very beneficial and easier for you.

A few small points to remember:

  1. Make sure it is well written.
  2. Explain your examples.
  3. Structure your work.
  4. Be honest.
  5. Do not worry.

Whilst these are your interviewers, they are also people and completely understand how nervous you are. Just remember to breathe. As long as you have put as much effort into your statement as you can, then you will be okay! 🙂

Your Interview:

I am sure you are familiar with this phrase:

“The first 30 seconds count.”

What this means is, as soon as you walk into a room, the first 30 seconds will give the interviewer their first impression of you. So, if you walk into a room with a crop-top, leggings and trainers, then the interviewer will not think you have put a lot of effort in. If you cannot put effort into the way you dress, then you give the impression that you will not put effort into the course.

Similar to a job interview, you need to be presentable and quite formal. Now, I am not talking bow ties and evening dresses. I mean smart / casual-wear.

Behaviours that will be detrimental during your interview:

  • Use of mobile phones.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Rolling of the eyes.
  • Looking uninterested.
  • One-word answers – such as yes, no, dunno etc.
  • Slouching in chair with your hands in your pockets.
  • The crossing of arms makes you look defiant and quite tense.

If any of these look familiar to you, make an effort to avoid them.

It is very important that you put effort into your interview. Whichever course you decide to do, I guarantee it will not be a walk in the park. You will have to research and revise, work in group projects, work on assignments and assessments, participate in theoretical and practical work, present in front of the class and more. Depending on the course, you may also have to participate in exams. The more effort you put into your work then the more you will get out of it.

What Lecturers want you to know:

Please put in effort when filling out your personal statement. You really want this course? Then show us exactly why we should accept you. No lecturer wants to read a statement that is merely 10 words long. It is a waste of our time and we could be interviewing other students who have actually put in the effort.

Once you have been accepted:

Picture by: Meme Generator (2017). Imgflip.

End Note:

I would thoroughly recommend after leaving secondary school to seek out further education. In the UK, you have to remain in education until the age of 18 anyway, so you might as well make good use of that with qualifications that could help you to get to your future career. If you are 18-24, then you can receive financial help in the means of bursaries etc., but if you are over 24, then you can apply for mature loans. I recommend that you use all the time you can to study, while financial aid is available.


Chelsea RE

I am a graduate of university, with a degree in Applied Animal Studies. Higher education gave me the chance to get actively involved in political and educational issues that had a national effect on students. Therefore, I mostly specialise in Education and Politics within the UK, however, I try to keep an open mind when writing articles. Whilst animals have nothing to do with writing, I soon became very passionate about important issues that people seem to turn a blind eye to, so decided to start writing. As a result, this has intrigued me into wanting to write professionally.