Further Education Sector Activity bulletin published

Date published: 16 March 2021

The Department for the Economy has today published an Official Statistics bulletin entitled 'Further Education Sector Activity in Northern Ireland: 2015/16 to 2019/20'.

Further Education Activity Bulletin published
Further Education Activity Bulletin published

This statistical bulletin presents a range of analysis regarding enrolments and students (both regulated and non-regulated) in the Northern Ireland Further Education (FE) Sector, covering academic years 2015/16 to 2019/20. This analysis covers the characteristics of those enrolling in FE Colleges across a range of variables, including: sex, age, mode of attendance, provision area, level of study, subject area, deprivation, funding stream, higher education and performance (retention, achievement and success rates).

Key points:

  • FE College enrolments have decreased by a net 14.0%, from 153,817 in 2015/16 to 132,354 in 2019/20; this includes a 10.6% fall on 2018/19 (148,002), linked partly to COVID-19. Medium-term factors include fewer part-time enrolments, improved school exam performance and a ‘demographic dip’ in 16-19-year-olds.
  • Over the period 2015/16 to 2019/20, the regulated share of enrolments has fallen in net terms, from 84.0% to 81.4%.
  • Of the 107,760 regulated FE Sector enrolments in 2019/20, nearly four-fifths (78.9%) were at ‘Level 2’ (equivalent to GCSE A*-C) or above.
  • Higher Education enrolments at FE Colleges have decreased by a net 11.2%, from 11,631 in 2015/16 to 10,323 in 2019/20.
  • A quarter (25.5%) fewer qualifications were awarded in FE Colleges in 2019/20 (65,659) than in 2015/16 (88,153).
  • Over the period 2015/16 to 2019/20, while the retention rate at FE Colleges has increased (90.2% to 91.4%), net decreases have occurred in the rates for achievement (89.4% to 86.0%) and success (80.7% to 78.6%).
  • The number of students enrolled at FE Colleges has decreased by 14.5%, from 82,818 in 2015/16 to 70,847 in 2019/20.

The FE Sector Activity bulletin and other information, including an infographic and tables, is available to download on the Department for the Economy website.

Notes to editors: 

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