September 2015 issue

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UK state-funded sixth form colleges

State-funded sixth form colleges in the UK provide specialist education for 16-to-19 year olds with competitive fees, an immersive experience and a route into university, as Matthew Knott discovers.

Aspecialist educational sector, state-funded sixth form colleges are increasingly recruiting overseas and are using agents to do so.

Claire Reid-Warrilow at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College (SSFC) explains, “Typically the students are aged between 16 and 19 years and typically A-levels are the most studied qualification, although many also offer other qualifications such as BTECs, GCSEs and foundation degrees.”

“UK sixth form colleges offer tremendous value for money for international students,” says Maria Smith at Richard Huish College, in Taunton. “Generally, the choice of A-levels and vocational qualifications is much broader.” Fees are considerably cheaper than at independents, notes Jackie Taylor at Bexhill College, but the quality of teaching is high and “state-funded colleges still achieve outstanding results and progression to the UK universities”.

Immersion is another key advantage. “Here at SSFC we have 15 international students studying alongside 1,600 British students so they are fully immersed in British education and culture,” says Claire. Students stay in homestay and “immense resources” are dedicated to pastoral care, she adds.

The college offers 44 A-level subjects, a one-year Business Foundation commencing next year with Chester University, and an English preparation course for students not meeting the 5.5 Ielts band for academic programmes. “SSFC results were 100 per cent in 23 subjects, A*-B grades, and 98 per cent pass rate in all subjects in 2014,” she adds.

International students make up around 10 per cent of the 1,450-strong student body at Itchen Sixth Form College in Southampton, says Bryony Sharpen. “This provides what we feel is an optimal UK/international mix, allowing the college good understanding of the needs of the international student, while also facilitating quality of education provision to all our students.” Students are integrated through a range of programmes, a welcome week, cultural events, workshops and tutorials, she adds. Courses include A-levels, pre and fast-track A-levels, a Science and Engineering foundation, EFL and high school programmes, as well as ‘taster’ and tailored summer courses.

At Bexhill College, Jackie says that the benefits of a broad curriculum and integration are complemented by the surroundings. “We are located in a small and quiet seaside town so it is a very safe environment. However, we are close to bigger towns, London, Brighton and the two main airports.” Results have been above the national average for 21 years, she adds, and details other factors including university application support, sports academies and scholarships.

Chang Zhang at Hartlepool Sixth Form College (HSFC) says students benefit from good value, an integrated study environment, an authentic experience and extensive support. She adds that tailor-made academic programmes are available as well as designated bilingual staff.

“We are particularly proud of our enrichment programme tailored to international students,” says Maria at Richard Huish, which offers A-levels, BTECs and fast-track A-levels. “Everyone receives English tuition each week and we aim to ensure all students leave us with an Ielts score of 6.5, which would enable entry into the top universities.”

Maria adds they have a careers officer to assist with progression or employment. The ratio of overseas students at contributing colleges that progress to UK universities ranges from two thirds to almost all. “This principal aspiration from our international student body is to progress to a high-ranking university usually within the UK,” says Bryony.

China and Hong Kong are clearly the major sources, and agents play a key role in facilitating growth and diversity. SSFC has concentrated on these countries, says Claire. “SSFC recruits students in the main by using reputable agents that we have signed agreements with. We attend organised agent fairs where we know the agencies have been checked and verified.” The college also visits agencies and does training. “It is really important to keep that contact and inform them of any new updates. SSFC is always looking for new markets to keep the cohort varied.”

Itchen’s international students predominantly come from Asia and South America, recruited through agent partnerships, says Bryony. Bexill College is relatively new to international recruitment, explains Jackie, and the college is focussed on Vietnam, Latin America and Kazakhstan. “We mainly use agents and we meet these at fairs. We also attend student fairs,” she adds. HSFC has direct channels and agent partners, says Chang, “and we welcome all potential new agents who are seeking cooperation”.

SJames Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SCFA), provides an overview of the sector.

“The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA) represents, promotes and supports the 93 sixth form colleges in England. Around 160,000 16-to-19 year olds are enrolled at a sixth form college and the sector is responsible for 20 per cent of all A-levels.

Sixth form colleges are the most successful providers of 16-to-19 education in England. They outperform the three other main groups in the state sector: school sixth forms, academy sixth forms and FE colleges. Sixth form colleges send more young people to higher education than independent schools and almost one third of these young people come from the least advantaged areas of the country. More sixth form colleges are rated as either good or outstanding by Ofsted (89 per cent) than any other group of providers.

There are around 600 non-EEA students enrolled at a sixth form college, with the vast majority based in nine institutions. Most of these students come from China or Hong Kong, but increasing numbers are being recruited from Russia and South East Asia. High standards, a broad extra-curricular offer and outstanding pastoral care are encouraging increasing numbers of international students. Our colleges also have an excellent record of supporting students to progress to higher education.”

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of StudyTravel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.







Alpadia Language Schools  
Amauta Language School  
CERAN Lingua
don Quijote  
EF International Language Centers  
ELS Language Centers  
Eurolingua Institute  
International House World Organisation  
Kaplan International
Kings Education  
LAL Language Centres  
Oscars International  
Pro Linguis  
Quality English  
Sprachcaffe Language Plus 
St Giles International  
TLG - The Language Gallery  
Twin Group  

BASP - Buenos Aires Spanish School  

Ability English  
Cairns Language Centre  
English Australia  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
Monash College  

Instituto Cultural IDIOMA  

Spanish World Institute  

YMCA International Language School  

Academia Tica  

Study Team Cuba  

Carlsbad International School  

ABLS - Accreditation Body for Language Services  
BEST in Bath  
Communicate School  
English Language Centre Brighton  
Experience English Group  
Heart of England Language School  
Inspiring Learning  
International House London  
Islington Centre for English  
Liverpool School of English  
Living Learning English  
Manchester Language School  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Sidmouth International School  
University of Liverpool  

Alliance Française Lyon  
Alpine French School  
Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne  
Ecole de Tersac  
France Langue  
inlingua La Rochelle  
Institut Français Riéra  
International House Nice  

BWS Germanlingua  
F+U Academy of Languages  

Atlantic Language Galway  
Donegal Language School Equestrian & Surf Centre  
Emerald Cultural Institute  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Horner School of English  
International House Dublin  
ISE - International School of English  
MEI Ireland  
University College Cork Language Centre  

Intercultural Institute of Japan  
Kai Japanese Language School  
Sakura House  
Yokohama International Education Academy  

Feltom Malta  
IELS - Institute of English Language Studies  
Magister Academy  

Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology  
English New Zealand  
University of Otago  

International House Belfast  

Paradise English  
Habla Ya Language Center  

International School of the Algarve  

Experience English Group  
Kilgraston Language and Activities School  

Bay Language Institute  
EC Cape Town  
Education South Africa  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
Inlingua Cape Town   
Interlink School of Languages  
International House Cape Town  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Training Centre   

CLIC International House Spain  
Escuela de Idiomas Nerja  
Estudio Sampere  
Live Madrid SC School  
Malaga Instituto  

British International School Phuket - BCIS  
California Language Academy  
EF International Language Centers  
Summer Study Programs  
University of California San Diego  


Calgary Board of Education  
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Edmonton Catholic Schools  
Edmonton Public Schools  
English Montreal School Board  
Golden Hills School Division #75  
Greater Essex County District School Board  
Greater Victoria School District  
Halton Catholic District School Board  
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced  
ITTTI Vancouver  
Langley School District #35  
Louis Riel School Division  
Ottawa Carlton District School Board  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Pembina Trails School Division  
Powell River School District #47  
Simcoe County District School Board  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Thames Valley District School Board  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  

Chaucer College Canterbury  
Chichester College  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Queen Ethelburga s College  

Barrie School, The  
High Schools International - HSI  
Menaul School  


Hult International Business School  
Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology  
Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology  
Georgian College  
North Island College International  
St Clair College  

Bromley College of Further and Higher Education  
University of Liverpool  

University College Cork Language Centre  

University of Otago  

International School of the Algarve  
Summer Study Programs  
University of California San Diego  


Hult International Business School  


English Australia  

British Council  
Campus Living Villages  
Quality English  
Trinity College London  
Twin Group  

Homestay Technologies  

English New Zealand  


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