Article published 2nd June 2008
Tutorial Colleges are aimed at mature students (aged 16+) whose ultimate aim is to attend a British University.
Tutorial colleges are private academic institutions that offer schooling on the fringes of mainstream British education and are typically a cheaper option than International Study Centres. You tend to see a lot of Tutorial Colleges marketing their wares at British Council 'Study in the UK' exhibitions.
Not all tutorial colleges take boarders but many do. Examples include St Clares College (in Oxford) and Cambridge Tutors Sixth Form College (in Croydon, south of London!). These schools generally provide a more adult environment, small classes, good EFL support and special programmes for entering mainstream British education, especially universities.
We have reviewed a handful of tutorial colleges such as Abbey College in London - reading the reviews (Availabe to subscribers of this website) will give you a flavour of what to expect.
About tutorial colleges
The students. Most tutorial colleges will have some pupils from among the local population, but this is not the British public school education you or your child may have dreamed of.
Accommodation - this will tend to be with local families rather than on campus.
Who they suit. Students need to be self-motivated and responsible . Tutorial colleges do not usually offer the same levels of pastoral care and support as that found at International study centres.
Do be careful, - ask to see the school's exam results and university placement record before considering any of these establishments.
Bellerbys, an international 'college' promoted heavily by a string of agents outside the UK, offers residential and non-residential courses on four different campuses. Pupils may stay in off-campus residence halls or lodge with 'families' (one of its locations offers more traditional boarding facilities). Bellerbys stands outside the mainstream British education system, and, as one might expect, is less pricey than the study centres. Its literature provides a complicated chart showing how an overseas pupil could enter Bellerbys' pre-GCSE course at the age of 14 (after English tuition at Bellerbys' 'Embassy' English language school) and continue through its GCSE course, A level course, three year university degree course and Masters degree or MBA course-all without ever setting eyes on a British student or educational institution! Before rushing into this one, do consider sending your child to the local international school back at home.
Are tutorial colleges the only option for young people aged 16+?
No, students may prefer to learn English in their home country or to attend an international Study Centre in the UK. Some study centres are closely associated with boarding schools and take children of all ages, others are stand alone institutions. In addition, some boarding schools will take overseas students but, as a rule of thumb, the older the child the greater the command of English required on entry.
Remember under 18's will require a guardian while studying in the UK - make sure you find a reputable one.