The further education (FE) college advisor performs a key role at any FE institution, providing a positive contribution to students’ lives. As well as the administration of placements, the college advisor role ensures that effective processes are put in place to provide a valuable and rewarding experience for students.
Offering a seamless service to students and staff, landing an FE careers advice job means providing excellent pastoral support, offering learners the ability to talk about all aspects of student life. Therefore, this position demands that candidates be friendly and approachable.
FE career advisors are expected to provide impartial information to students related to study routes, training or job prospects, in order to help individuals, make effective decisions about their future career path.
The role of FE college advisor requires dedication and a genuine desire to help students achieve their academic and career goals. To succeed in this role, it is incumbent upon individuals to build a strong understanding of the UK's FE system, keeping your knowledge up to date as regards any policy developments.
You should be on hand to offer advice, information and guidance to students on issues relating to their programme of study, as well as being available to get the right support at the right time should they need it. Therefore, effective communication skills are a must.
Being adept at working as part of a team is essential for the role of FE college advisor as the position will include plenty of in-house collaboration, as well as engagement with programme teams to identify and secure placement opportunities.
Candidates for the role of FE college advisor are usually educated to higher national diploma (HND) level standard or equivalent demonstrable work-based experience GCSE maths and English at grade C or above.
Many college advisors have previous teaching experience in FE institutions. Working as a teacher or lecturer previously can provide valuable insights into the educational system and the needs of students
Salaries for the role of FE college advisor vary widely from £24,037 at the low end of the scale to £48,516 for the most experienced employees. The median salary comes in at £32,260 per year in the UK, according to Talent.com, which is lower than the median annual pay for full-time employees (£33,000) for the tax year ending on April 5, 2022.
Sadie Ibbotson joined City of Bath College in 2014 after 15 years in the Navy’s logistics department as student advice centre manager. The role is adjacent to the FE college advisor position. She explains that her main tasks are responsibility for “all applications to the college from full-time students aged 16-18 and 19+, part-time applicants for professional qualifications and all applying for our leisure courses”.
Career progression to a management role in the college advisor team is certainly a possibility. In the case of Sadie, it was her admin and assessor background that enabled her to secure a head of student services post at Plymouth College of Art. She then returned to the local NHS to manage a support service for the mental health team and a “customer services role at Wiltshire College followed”, before she then “moved to Bath College, first as a coordinator of student services and then manager”.
She now leads a “14-strong team that ensures all students are enrolled, processes all applications, organises interviews and looks after accommodation for international students under 18 who live with families under the national ‘homestay’ scheme”.
In terms of challenges faced in the role, Sadie explains that two that stand out for her are “organising interview dates with busy curriculum staff; and handling students’ frustration when they apply for funding but don't always have all the information they need — sometimes they complain to us as they have nowhere else to go”. She adds: “Our front desk team is left to sort it out.”
AoCJobs, part of the Association of Colleges, connects teachers and support staff with schools and colleges for online job opportunities.