The Department for the Economy has today published an Official Statistics bulletin entitled Further Education Sector Activity in Northern Ireland: 2016/17 to 2020/21.
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 2016/17 to 2020/21. 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).
The key points include:
- FE College enrolments have decreased by a net 36.3 per cent, from 153,088 in 2016/17 to 97,532 in 2020/21; this includes a 26.3 per cent fall on 2019/20 (132,354). Recent trends, including decreasing part-time enrolments and the number of 16-19 year-olds dipping to its lowest level since the 1950s, have been exacerbated by COVID-19 related factors, such as more generous GCSE and GCE grades (leading to school pupils being more likely to progress to sixth form or university) and practical difficulties with organising community-based courses (impacting mainly on adult provision).
- Over the period 2016/17 to 2020/21, the regulated share of enrolments has increased in net terms, from 84.0 per cent to 89.6 per cent.
- Of the 87,368 FE Sector regulated enrolments in 2020/21, over four-fifths (82.6 per cent) were at Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE A*-C) or above.
- Higher Education enrolments at FE Colleges have decreased by a net 10.2 per cent, from 11,175 in 2016/17 to 10,034 in 2020/21.
- Over a third (37.4 per cent) fewer qualifications were awarded in FE Colleges in 2020/21 (51,999) than in 2016/17 (83,015).
- Over the period 2016/17 to 2020/21, net increases have occurred in the rates for achievement (85.9 per cent to 87.2 per cent) and success (77.5 per cent to 78.7 per cent), whereas the retention rate has hovered around 90 per cent (90.3 per cent in 2020/21).
- The number of students enrolled at FE Colleges has decreased by 30.4 per cent, from 80,401 in 2016/17 to 55,971 in 2020/21.
Points to note:
- Retention rate is defined as the percentage of final year regulated enrolments completed by students.
- Achievement rate relates to the percentage of final year regulated enrolments completed by students who achieve a qualification.
- Success rate is recognised as the overall measure of performance, which is the percentage of final year regulated enrolments of students who complete and achieve a qualification.
The FE Sector Activity bulletin and other information is available to download including an infographic and tables at Further education sector activity in Northern Ireland: 2016/17 to 2020/21.
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