Further education (often abbreviated FE) in the United Kingdom and Ireland is education in addition to that received at secondary school, that is distinct from the higher education (HE) offered in universities and other academic institutions. It may be at any level in compulsory secondary education, from entry to higher level qualifications such as awards, certificates, diplomas and other vocational, competency-based qualifications (including those previously known as NVQ/SVQs) through awarding organisations including City and Guilds, Edexcel (BTEC) and OCR. FE colleges may also offer HE qualifications such as HNC, HND, foundation degree or PGCE. The colleges are also a large provider of apprenticeships, where most of the training takes place in the apprentices' workplace with some day release into college.
FE in the United Kingdom is usually a means to attain an intermediate, advanced or follow-up qualification necessary to progress into HE, or to begin a specific career path, e.g. accountant, engineer or veterinary surgeon. It is available to students over 16 at colleges of Further Education, through work-based learning, or adult and community learning institutions.
In the United States and Canada, the term continuing education has a similar meaning.
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