Mature students on degree courses get a better deal from further education colleges than they do from universities, a survey by leading market consultants shows.
Colleges have smaller classes, greater peer group support, better quality counselling and guidance and closer contact with staff, according to a survey of student attitudes for the Higher Education Information Services Trust.
The survey challenges a claim by the Higher Education Quality Council last year that FE degrees are second best to universities.
The disadvantages identified in a report of the survey include poorer libraries and the lack of well-developed student unions with organised social and sporting activities. Whether younger and more mobile students have a better deal is less clear from the report. It recommends setting up an independent degree validating body to reassure employers and the public that degrees from different places are of equal merit.