What Is Post Secondary Education ?

The definition of post secondary is a reference to any education beyond high school.


Further education colleges are attended by people of all ages – unlike schools – from 16 to 90+ although most students are between 16 and 18 years old as all young people must now stay in learning until their 18th birthday.

FE college is a totally different world to school or sixth form college: you are expected to be responsible and take control of your own time-management, which can be great for those craving more independence.

Some colleges are very large, with several sites or campuses and some are specialist, such as those offering agricultural or marine courses.

The environment is also less formal: you’re likely to be on first name terms with most of the staff, whatever their age, and it’s unlikely there will be any dress code – definitely not a school uniform – which can be very appealing to some young people.

As well as offering a range of different courses, set up in a way less like the classroom approach you will have experienced at school, further education courses are great for those who want a more hands-on approach – if you know what industry you want to go into (for example, working in childcare, or art and design) then a BTEC could be better for your career progression than A-levels, combining practical learning with subject and theory content. These more vocational courses also help you figure out what specific role you want to pursue in your chosen industry, unlike A-levels which are more academic and theoretical.

A-levels might be better for those who still don’t know what specific industry they want to go into – you can keep your options open with multiple subjects – and who are more comfortable staying in the academic, classroom environment.

A full time course at college is 16 hours, which can mean a student can have a part-time job at the same time (but they will be expected to complete course work and projects too!). Students required to re-sit or take English and maths as part of their study programme may be in college for more hours each week.


At one end of the scale, a lot of the discussion focused on very elite research universities, such as MIT and Harvard, and the conditions necessary for creating this kind of research powerhouse. Richard Sennett and Stefan Collini alike emphasized the importance of giving academics a large degree of autonomy, arguing that research which is too narrowly planned and tracked is unlikely to produce exciting or worthwhile results.

In contrast to this ‘shopkeeper’ approach to research, Sennett outlined the ‘MIT model’, which recognizes that risk, waste and failure are all essential parts of the process. “Good science works the way good art does,” he said – meaning, it’s a creative process.

Sennett also issued a warning, saying that while China (which once typified the ‘shopkeeper’ approach) is now embracing the MIT example, many other countries are now returning to ‘safer’ research structures, due to financial constraints. This, along with pressure to create publishable results quickly, does not make for the best research, Sennett warned.

Collini agreed with these points, touching on the tension between the desired academic freedom and meeting the demands of accountability, especially when public funding is involved. He also highlighted the wider importance of creating a sense of shared commitment to scholarly enquiry within the university community – and further suggested academics should return to a more active role in running universities, rather than leaving this to professional managers and administrators.

Finally, Collini stressed the need for universities to step up their ability to communicate their less immediately tangible goals and aspirations to the wider public – to promote understanding of the importance of investing in longer term research projects, as well as more immediate goals such as training students to fill professional functions needed by society.
Universities on a mass scale

At the same time, the panellists acknowledged the importance of this last role of universities – in producing graduates in every field from teaching to engineering. In particular, discussion focused on meeting the challenge of fulfilling this kind of function in countries where demand for university education is growing rapidly.

David Willetts argued that there’s a need for a more mass-provision approach, capable of delivering higher education on the large scale in demand in countries like India – and said he believed MOOCs will play a major part in this.

Responding to Sennett’s anecdote about the difficulty of providing adequate teaching support via MOOCs (Sennett taught one of MIT’s first MOOCs, and claimed to have received 7,000 emails after his first online lecture), Willetts said he believed they would evolve to meet this challenge, largely through the use of collaborative learning platforms. He also predicted growing use of ‘education analytics’ to track trends in learning patterns, and highlight common errors.

Sennett seemed to argue for more of a hybrid approach, pointing out that hands-on learning remains essential for many professions, and arguing that the creation of paid apprenticeships should be a top priority for governments today.

On the subject of universities in developing regions, Willetts made a case for the addition of higher education to the Millennium Development Goals. He argued that while the focus on literacy levels has been and remains vital, the lack of a goal linked to tertiary education has meant universities have gone under-supported in some countries where there is a real demand for higher education to be developed.

While some of the speakers focused more on the challenges facing research-focused universities, and others on the challenges of extending higher education provision to a growing number of students worldwide, they did ultimately all agree on one thing: diversity of universities is not just a part of the way things are, but essential for a successful higher education system.

As one example, Collini praised the California university system, which incorporates three basic types of university – community colleges, state universities and research-focused institutes (of which UCLA and UC Berkeley are the best known) – all with distinct roles, but also interconnected and feeding into one another.

Meanwhile Pratap Bhanu Mehta stressed the dangers of believing that one successful system could simply be copied and recreated elsewhere, suggesting that India had fallen into this trap, and that this could be one possible explanation for the IITs’ failure to live up to the high expectations they were established under.

Willetts made a similar point when jokingly describing his frustration during visits to education ministers and leaders in other countries. Many are so blinded by the prestige of Oxford and Cambridge, he said, that they’re unwilling to see the diverse strengths of the UK’s other universities – which may actually be better partners for their own institutions.

In general, the panellists were noticeably scrupulous in reiterating the belief that no one type of university is superior to another: all fulfil important roles for today’s societies and economies, in different ways. Only briefly touched upon was the question of whether it’s preferable (or possible) to keep different types of university distinct, or whether diversity of function within universities is also beneficial. But from the various examples raised during the evening – from California to sub-Saharan Africa – the general consensus seemed to be: it depends on the social context.

What works in California (Willetts was very emphatic on this!) would not necessarily fly in the UK. What works in the UK cannot be simply transplanted into a population-booming India. And while there’s no doubt that technology will play a major role in the next generation of universities, exactly how this will work out in practice is still very much open to conjecture.


Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

As an apprentice you’ll:

work alongside experienced staff
gain job-specific skills
earn a wage and get holiday pay
get time for study related to your role (usually one day a week)

Apprenticeships take 1 to 5 years to complete depending on their level.

Apprenticeships allow you to combine work and study by mixing on-the-job training with classroom learning. You’ll be employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or a training centre. By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.

What you’ll learn depends on the role that you’re training for. However, apprentices in every role follow an approved study programme, which means you’ll gain a nationally-recognised qualification at the end of your apprenticeship.

These qualifications can include:

Functional skills – GCSE level qualifications in English, maths and IT.
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) – from level 2 (comparable to five GCSEs) up to level 5 (similar to a postgraduate degree).
Technical certificates – such as BTEC, City and Guild Progression Award etc.
Academic qualifications – including a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) foundation degree or the equivalent of a full Bachelors degree.

You’ll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, otherwise known as soft skills, which are highly valued by employers. These include communication, teamwork and problem solving, as well as knowledge of IT and the application of numbers.
Management and Leadership MSc apprenticeship

Funding available through the Apprenticeship Levy
Apprenticeship levels

There are four different levels of apprenticeship:

Intermediate – equivalent to five good GCSE passes.
Advanced – equivalent to two A-level passes.
Higher – equivalent to the first stages of higher education, such as a foundation degree.
Degree – comparable to a Bachelors or Masters degree. Find out more at degree apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship level structures vary across different countries in the UK. If you aren’t based in England, see Apprenticeships in Wales, Apprenticeships in Scotland or NI Direct Apprenticeships for more information.

Types of apprenticeships

Most job sectors offer apprenticeship opportunities in the UK, with a wide range of specific roles on offer within each. These include:

Business apprenticeships in roles such as accounting, marketing, people/HR administration, recruitment and sales.
Construction apprenticeships in roles such as building, plumbing and quantity surveying.
Engineering apprenticeships in roles such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.
Healthcare apprenticeships in roles such as dental, nursing and youth work, as well as NHS apprenticeships.
IT apprenticeships in roles such as information security and software development.
Law apprenticeships offered at paralegal, legal executive or solicitor level.
Media apprenticeships in roles such as journalism, live events and costume design.

You’ll be able to enter your chosen sector at an apprenticeship level that reflects your previous qualifications and the demands of the role.
Related case studies

Ryan McLaughlin

Apprentice carpenter and joiner

Rhianne Nurse


Aneliese Lagan

Apprentice cardiac physiologist

The length of your apprenticeship will depend on a number of factors, such as the level of the apprenticeship, your chosen sector, employer requirements and your individual ability.

That being said, apprenticeships will usually last between one and six years. Their length follows a basic framework:

intermediate apprenticeships typically last between one year and 18 months
advanced apprenticeships are usually studied over two years
higher and degree apprenticeships take three-to-six years to complete.

It’s worth checking directly with your chosen employer before applying to check how long your course will last, as some won’t follow this structure.
Pay rates and working hours

If you’re either aged under 19 and an apprentice, or 19 or over and still in your first year as an apprentice, you’ll be entitled to the apprenticeship wage Apprentices aged 19 or over and who’ve completed their first year will be able to claim the National Minimum Wage, which currently (for those aged 18+)

This pay rate is stated as a guideline – some employers will pay you a higher wage. You’ll also be entitled to sick pay, any additional benefits your employer offers to its other employees, such as healthcare plans and childcare vouchers, and at least 20 days of paid holiday per year. Use the GOV.UK Holiday Calculator to work out your exact entitlement.

Your working hours will vary depending on your employer, but you won’t be able to work more than 40 hours per week or any fewer than 30. Typically, you’ll work between 35 and 37.5 hours per week. The sector you’re entering will determine the nature of your daily working hours – while most apprentices can expect to work a 9am-5.30pm day with an hour’s break for lunch, those in hospitality or healthcare roles, for instance, should expect to work antisocial shifts.
Age limit

There is no upper age limit on being an apprentice. As long as you’re over 16 and have the right credentials, you’ll be eligible to apply for your chosen apprenticeship.

If you start your apprenticeship after you turn 19, you may be entitled to additional government funding – find out more about what’s on offer Advanced Learner Loan.


These days, you can learn a whole lot without ever going to school, all through the magic of self-directed learning and Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You have so many online education sites to choose from today.

With so many courses, you might be wondering which ones are actually worth taking. Well, we can help! If you’re looking for a healthy dose of personal growth, here are the best self-improvement courses that we recommend at https://vinelady.com/social-network/.

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