Even Mark Haysom, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, says FE's most obvious feature, its often aged buildings, does little to improve its image.
But while further education has described itself variously as the Cinderella sector and a neglected middle child, Croydon college has loftier aspirations.
With increased funding available for improving college buildings, one college is looking at the stars - or, at least, the Croydon skyline.
The upper floors of its proposed new 29-storey building, dubbed the "learning tower", would be made up of flats.
The planning application, lodged with Croydon council, complete with images of the futuristic building, shows anyone willing to live above an FE college will have the choice of 175 flats and access to a fitness centre.
How much the project will cost remains a mystery, with the college playing its cards close to its chest.
The principal, Mariane Cavalli, refused to comment, except to issue a statement though her marketing department. It said: "We have committed to working with the council, provided our mutual requirements can be simultaneously met."