Barnfield College


History: Barnfield evolved from specialising in service industries and commerce to become an FE college offering everything from fashion, floristry and furnishings to sports therapy.

Address: Five centres within the town boundaries of Luton, and one in Bedford. Also runs an extensive network of community-based courses.

Ambience: Big, inclusive and high-flying, with a plethora of awards and accolades.

Who's the boss? Pete Birkett, principal and chief executive.

Prospectus: 01582 569 500, or check out the prospectus here.


Easy to get into? Yes. Little or no qualifications are needed for basic level entry. An advice and guidance system matches applicants with the appropriate course.

Foundation Degrees: 15 options available, including specialist make-up design, complimentary therapy, web development, construction management and craft design.

Vital statistics: The largest college in Luton and Bedfordshire, with 28,000 students. Runs an expanding range of higher education programmes (many validated by the University of Bedfordshire). Also a major operator of apprenticeships through Barnfield Training Services.

Added value: A Beacon College with six Centres of Vocational Excellence: Motor vehicle engineering; computer integrated network systems; health and social care skills; house building for the future; supervisory and management skills and aviation operation. The first college in the country to receive ministerial support to create two 11-18 school academies. A university technology college opened in 2013.

Teaching: Quality of provision was rated as 'Outstanding' at the most recent Ofsted appraisal.

Any accommodation? Yes. Halls are made available to all first year foundation degree students in partnership with University of Bedfordshire. Rooms start at £87 per week.

Cheap to live there? Rents are above average. Private rents are around £80 per week in both Luton and Bedford.

Transport links: All centres have access to public transport, and Thameslink trains run from Luton to central London four times an hour.

Fees: Further education courses vary in price. Higher Education courses cost £6,000 per annum.

Bursaries: Those in work may attract sponsorship from employers. Prospective students are advised to contact the college for information on funding.


Nightlife: Lots of clubs and pubs in Luton, and neighbouring towns of Bedford and Milton Keynes. London is near enough for clubbers to catch the early morning train back.