A further education college is a post-secondary school that provides adult education. In some parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom, these schools are referred to as further education colleges, while the United States commonly refers to them as community colleges. A further education college offers coursework beyond what is typically offered at a secondary school, but that is not necessarily as extensive as coursework offered at a university.
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, a primary and secondary education are compulsory. Community college or university attendance, on the other hand, is not mandatory. Students attending a further education college are also able to select particular areas of study according to the students' interests and career goals.
Adult education courses offered at a further education college are primarily geared toward helping students acquire marketable job skills. In some instances, however, lifelong learning classes may be offered to introduce interested students to a new hobby. Certificate programs and two-year degree programs are also offered at these schools.
While the focus of a further education college is adult learning, some will allow secondary school students over the age of 16 to participate in select classes. Often, young students are able to begin earning college credits or begin vocational training while still in high school by attending a community college or a further education college at night, on weekends and during extended school breaks. Many also offer mentoring and tutoring resources for young students, as well.
Employees may also access adult continuing education at further education and community colleges, which may be useful for career advancement. Courses like these are often offered after business hours or on weekends to accommodate existing work schedules. Such courses are also helpful for employees who need to learn new technologies or who must engage in continuing education hours in order to renew special certifications.
Employers will also sometimes use further education colleges to provide specialized training to new management staff. Some schools also offer apprenticeships for paid training in particular employment fields. Most frequently host job fairs, lectures and job search assistance for existing students and alumni, as well.
Gaining admission to a further education college is not as difficult as gaining admission to a university. Most require an applicant to be of a certain age and meet few other basic admission requirements. Tuition for community colleges is also more affordable than the average university tuition. Many of the course credits earned at a further education or community college can also be applied to an undergraduate degree if a student plans to continue her or his education at a university.