Adult & Further Education

Continuing your study after school

Adult & Further Education

Adult and further education generally refers to education undertaken by adults of all ages after leaving full-time study, and often after years or even decades of intervening occupation. It doesn’t include degree courses taken at college or university directly after leaving high school, which come under higher education.

It also excludes short day and evening classes, e.g. those held at community colleges and usually termed ‘continuing education’ (although there’s often a fine distinction between further and continuing education). Further education includes everything from basic reading and writing skills for the illiterate to full-time advanced, professional and doctoral degrees at university. On many university campuses, more students are enrolled in adult and further education courses than in regular degree programmes.

Adult education courses may be full or part-time and are provided by colleges, universities, community colleges, technical schools (which may use the facilities at elementary and high schools), trade schools, business schools, and elementary and high schools. Courses are also provided by private community organisations, government agencies, job training centres, labour and professional organisations, private tutors and instructors, business and industry, industrial training programmes, museums, clubs, private organisations and institutes, correspondence course schools and educational TV programmes. Typical of these classes are those offered under the auspices of the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) for people who want training and a qualification (e.g. the Certified International Trade Professional/CITP) in import and export skills. FITT provides workshops for small and medium-sized businesses, and also sponsors and monitors training at universities and colleges throughout Canada. For more information, contact FITT (30 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, ON K1P 5L4, 613-230 3553 or 1-800 561 3488, ).

Each year thousands of students attend further education courses at universities or community colleges, many of which are of short duration and job-related, and scheduled in the evenings, at weekends and during the summer recess. Lecturers may be full or part-time faculty members or professionals practising in the fields in which they lecture. Students generally aren’t required to take a minimum number of courses per semester or to take courses in succeeding semesters. You can register in a formal vocational programme or simply take a course for pleasure. The most popular fields in adult education are accounting, business administration and management, education, engineering, fine and applied arts, health professions, information technology (IT), language, literature, physical education, psychology and religion.

Basic costs

The federal government underwrites the cost of basic adult education, so that older students, particularly members of minority groups, can go back to school for the rudiments of an education they failed to get as children, e.g. in reading, writing, maths, history and geography. Many cities and provinces also offer career, vocational and continuing education programmes in public schools, including English and French as a Second Language (ESL/FSL) classes. Adult education also gives students the opportunity to complete their high school studies, which in some cities can be undertaken in Cantonese and other languages.

Many further education courses are of the open learning variety, where students study mostly at home. Correspondence colleges, most of which are private commercial organisations, offer literally hundreds of academic, professional and vocational courses, and enrol many thousands of students per year. Quebec operates a scheme called Télé-Université (514-843 2015), a subsidiary of the University of Quebec, for those wishing to pursue higher education at home using multimedia equipment. An initiative sponsored by Industry Canada called Schoolnet, aims to encourage students to use interactive websites and plans to connect all of Canada’s schools and public libraries to the internet.

This article is an extract from Living and working in Canada. Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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