The Department for the Economy has today published an Official Statistics bulletin entitled Further Education Sector Activity in Northern Ireland: 2017/18 to 2021/22.
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 2017/18 to 2021/22.
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:
- Following a decline of 57,978 (37.3%) between 2017/18 (155,510) and 2020/21 (97,532), including a 34,822 (26.3%) drop between 2019/20 and 2020/21, the number of FE College enrolments increased by 13,301 (13.6%) in 2021/22, to 110,833. While much of this recent increase related to part-time study and to students aged 25 and over, overall enrolments continued to be impacted by a longer-term decrease in part-time enrolments, the relatively low number of 16-19 year-olds and pandemic-related GCSE and GCE grading arrangements.
- Over the period 2017/18 to 2021/22, the regulated share of enrolments has decreased in net terms, from 83.0% to 82.5%.
- Of the 91,403 FE Sector regulated enrolments in 2021/22, over four-fifths (83.2%) were at Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE A*-C) or above.
- Higher Education enrolments at FE Colleges have decreased by 17.4%, from 11,848 in 2017/18 to 9,782 in 2021/22.
- Over a third (35.7%) fewer qualifications were awarded in FE Colleges in 2021/22 (53,229) than in 2017/18 (82,770).
- Over the period 2017/18 to 2021/22, net increases have occurred in the rates for achievement (85.3% to 86.6%) and success (77.0% to 77.3%), whereas the retention rate has decreased in net terms (90.3% to 89.3%).
- After falling by 21,943 (28.2%) between 2017/18 (77,914) and 2020/21 (55,971), most noticeably between 2019/20 and 2020/21, the number of FE College students increased by 5,725 (10.2%) in 2021/22, to 61,696.
Explanatory guidance notes:
- 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, on the DfE website.
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