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UK study  Choosing an institution  Independent colleges

Independent colleges 

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English language schools
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Tutorial/sixth-form colleges
Further education colleges
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There are over 50 independent (privately operated) further education colleges in the UK.

These schools and colleges are not government funded and rely on fees from students for their income. They encourage applications from international students and are experienced in dealing with their requirements.

Courses offered

Private schools teach the same material as state schools. They vary in size but some offer extra tuition, such as music or drama, or specialist courses.

For students aged 16 and over, private colleges provide a wide variety of courses. Some offer specialised teaching of GCSEs, A levels and Foundation courses and are often termed ’tutorial colleges’.

Some colleges offer specialist courses leading to internationally recognised professional qualifications in areas such as marketing, accountancy, or business. These qualifications are suitable for graduates looking to enhance their degree qualifications.

Resources and fees

Teaching resources are generally good and class sizes small, so examination results are excellent, with many students progressing to degree study at prestigious universities.

It is usual for a private institution to charge one fee covering tuition and accommodation.

There are many very good courses and colleges that are well worth the fees. Some, however, may be more interested in making a profit than providing high-quality courses or a supportive environment.


The best way to ensure that a private college is reputable is to check if it is accredited. Organisations responsible for accrediting colleges regularly inspect and assess institutions on criteria such as quality of teaching, facilities and staffing levels.

Look for colleges that are accredited by the British Accreditation Council (BAC) or are affiliated to the Conference for Independent Further Education (CIFE).

The advantages of studying at an accredited institution is that if you are not satisfied with any aspect of your course, you can consult the accrediting body. They have a procedure for dealing with complaints and will insist in resolving matters if necessary.


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