Education and training after the age of 16

Though everyone has the right to education, from the age of 16 there is currently no requirement for people to stay in education or training. There is also no responsibility for local authorities (or education authorities in Scotland) to make education for over 16s available in their area.

You may have heard about recent government proposals to change the law in England and Wales so that young people have to stay in education or training until they turn 18. These proposals are still under discussion and any changes to the law won’t happen for a few years.

However, if you want to do further education or improve your skills, there are lots of opportunities and support available.

If you apply to join a course, the education or training provider must not reject your application because of your gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief or because you have a disability. They can, in specific circumstances, reject your application because of your age (although not if the training is vocational).


A mature student is not given a place on a course when someone with lower qualifications is, because the course leader thinks he is too old. This is an example of direct discrimination.


A student with dyslexia applies to do a degree in English and is told by a university that it does not accept dyslexic students on English degree courses. The student has met the qualifying requirements for the course (through her A-Levels and AS-Levels), and other students with similar qualifications are offered places on the course. The university is discriminating against her because of her disability. This is direct discrimination.

Further information

Last Updated: 24 Jun 2009