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Further (Post 16 years) & Higher Education

Reading Family Information Service

This section deals with the compulsory education requirements until a young person is 18 years and the continuing education that is available after this age.


Page reviewed December 2020

What is Further Education (Post 16 years)?

Further education (FE) is the education that follows year 11. This is usually taught in a sixth-form college, as part of a school 6th Form (Years 12 & 13) or at FE colleges. Since 2013 if you leave school after Year 11 you must be in some sort of education, training or employment & training until you are 18 years old. You can study for A/Levels or Vocational qualifications (BTEC, NVQ etc), start an apprenticeships or traineeship, work or volunteer for 20hrs or more per week while in part-time education or training.

Schools and colleges will have their own prospectus covering the courses that they can offer students, they will also have open days and evenings so that you can find out more before applying for a place. Most courses you will need to have gained a certain number of GCSE’s at certain grades each course will list their requirements. If you are unsure of the Colleges or 6th Forms in your area you can search online at

For an overview of Further Education available in England please visit the Government website.

Is there any financial support available for Futher/Post 16 Education?

You may be eligible to the government 16-19 Bursary Fund, visit website for more details.

If you are 19 years or over, on a further education course and facing financial hardship, you may be able to get Discretionary Learner Support (DLS), this is available from the education establishment that you attend, where they will look at family circumstances and income. For more information please use the following link.

People over the age of 24 years now have the chance to apply for Advanced Learning Loan, this enables you to apply for level 3 or 4 course (e.g A'levels). If your course starts after 1st August 2016 the criteria will change and students from the age of 19 years will be able to apply check website for more details, about course type etc.

If you are a young person who needs help towards childcare for your child and you are under 20 years, you may be entitled to Care to Learn please visit the following website for more details. 

What is Higher Education?

Higher education (HE) is studying post 18 years of age, usually taking place at universities, or other colleges and institutions that award academic degrees or professional qualifications.

Universities & Colleges Admission Service - UCAS is the organisation that manages applications to higher education undergraduate courses in the UK. Prospective students can find out about the range of different courses available, how to apply and financial information on their website. Once you have made a shortlist of the universities you are interested in, you will have the opportunity to visit the establishments on their open days before you complete your application. Advice and guidance will also be available from your school or college.

There are other websites that provide information about courses and the universities/colleges:

Site where you can compare universities and colleges.

Is there any financial support available?

There are a number of sites with advice for students and their parents/carers concerning Student Finance. For a comprehensive overview of the process, eligibility for students and how to apply, visit the government website from which you can access a number of sites for further information. To register for student finance use the following link

There are other useful websites that explain the process students go through if they are eligible or if they are not. 

For students who want to have some advice and tips on how they can budget and manage their finances, these sites are useful.

Extra Financial help may be available for students who use registered childcare for their children, you must be eligible for student finance to access this grant. There is also two, three and four year education and childcare funding.

What is the Students Union?

The National Union of Students (NUS) is a voluntary membership organisation for all students in higher and further education they campaign to defend and extend the rights of students. You can also buy an NUS extra card which offers students various discounts at participating shops and food outlets.