Further Education Sector Activity Bulletin published

Date published: 31 January 2024

The Department for the Economy has today published an Official Statistics bulletin: Further Education Sector Activity in Northern Ireland: 2018/19 to 2022/23.

Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)
Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)

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 2018/19 to 2022/23. This analysis covers the characteristics of those enrolling in FE colleges across a range of variables, including: sex; age; mode of attendance; level of study; subject area; deprivation; funding stream; higher education; and performance (retention, achievement and success rates).

Key points include:

All enrolments

  • Following a 34% decline between 2018/19 (148,000) and the pandemic-impacted 2020/21 (97,530), the number of enrolments has increased by 20% over the two most recent years, to 117,305 in 2022/23.
  • The regulated share of enrolments increased from 80% in 2018/19 to 84% in 2022/23.
  • Over half of 2022/23 enrolments were mainstream funded by the Department for the Economy.

Regulated enrolments

  • Of the 98,200 regulated enrolments in 2022/23, 82% were at Level 2 or above, up from 79% in 2018/19 (equivalent to GCSE A*-C) or above.
  • The student population on regulated enrolments is becoming older, with the aged 20 and over share increasing from 39% in 2018/19 to 42% in 2022/23.
  • Higher education enrolments fell by a net 6%, from 10,705 in 2018/19 to 10,020 in 2022/23.
  • FE sector regulated enrolments are fairly evenly spread across relative multiple deprivation quintiles, although considerable variation occurs at college level.

Qualifications and Performance

  • Over a fifth fewer qualifications were awarded in 2022/23 (58,965) than in 2018/19  2018/19 (74,580).

Students enrolled and Qualifications achieved

  • Following a 27% decline between 2018/19 (76,670) and 2020/21 (55,970), the number of students has increased by 14% over the two most recent years, to 64,025 in 2022/23.
  • The number of students achieving regulated qualifications decreased by a net 17%, from 44,105 in 2018/19 to 36,710 in 2022/23.

The full bulletin is available on the DfE website.

Notes to editors: 

1. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Allan Matthews, Statistics and Research Branch (Tertiary Education), Department for the Economy allan.matthews@economy-ni.gov.uk or Tel: 028 90257727

2. To keep up to date with news from the Department for the Economy you can follow us on the following social media channels:

Twitter – @Economy_NI
Facebook – @DeptEconomyNI
Instagram – economy_ni
LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI 

3. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk 

4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top