We offer a wide range of adult courses that are designed to suit your needs if you are returning to study. You can choose from apprenticeships, degree courses, short leisure courses and training to get you back into employment. With full-time, part-time and work-based options on offer you are guaranteed to find the course for you.

Please note: course fees on the website are only a guide. Due to changes in government funding throughout the year, please contact us for the very latest information.

The latest for adults

My story Gareth Read
General Engineering HNC
Electrical Installations Level 2 Diploma
Electrical Installations Level 3 Diploma

Gareth Read
Watch Video

Hi, my name’s Gareth and I have just spent four years studying engineering at South Essex College and this is my story.

I was a print finishing operator in a factory, and had been in similar roles for ten years. It wasn’t really taking me anywhere so, as I was quite mechanically-minded, I was looking for a role that was more challenging and varied. I realised that the best way to do it would be to go back to college and gain another qualification.

I really enjoyed my time at the College, the staff have always been excellent and I have had really good support. The facilities and equipment are fantastic and are backed up with experienced and knowledgeable staff from industry to enable us to get the best out of our studies and to apply what we are learning to use out in industry.

I moved on to the HNC in General Engineering and over those two years also took on both the Level 2 and 3 City & Guilds in Electrical Installation.

The first year of my BTEC Level 3 I was still working as a machine operator, taking my day releases as unpaid leave and having to make my hours up which just added pressure, but I was fortunate in that towards the end of my first year I got myself into an engineering role with quite a big company.

Now I work as a print finishing engineer. I’ve moved from operating machines to breakdowns, maintenance and operator training. My career potential has opened up massively. In the last 16 months I have travelled abroad with work having never been abroad beforehand –  I didn’t even have a passport. Four years ago I was working in a factory and on Sunday I fly out to Japan to train on a new machine.

I would absolutely encourage people to return to education. If you have taken a break from education to go into a job, if you are not sure what you want to do with the rest of your life it is never too late to make a change. I was 32 when I enrolled  to go back to College and I’m aspiring to my Batchelor’s Degree and I will probably be 45 by then, but it is never too late.

My ambition is to do my HND and work towards getting my Batchelor’s Degree, maybe even a Masters. It just comes down to how far I am prepared to push myself. The thing that I have found the most inspirational is the passion of the staff who have really engaged. I have been very fortune in having excellent teachers who have really made me want to know more and push myself and excel. It has been a huge thing for me, I never would have thought when I was 16 leaving school that I would be here, now at this stage as a distinction-level student. The motivation that I have got from the staff has been a massive factor for me.

23 hours 32 min ago

What changes would you make to South Essex? #tellkate by 24/10 and she'll tell the people who could make it happen

1 day 23 hours ago

Special #SECGraduation spread in today's Echo Essex - go out a grab a copy! #success #HE #proud

1 day 23 hours ago

Today's Echo Essex​ is packed full of South Essex College stories - check out the #Taste feature on our new #Thurrock Supper Club!

My story Jon Warton
Carpentry and Joinery(Site Carpentry) Level 3 Diploma

Jon Warton

My name is Jon Warton, I am 31 years old and I studied Carpentry and Joinery at South Essex College from 2001 until 2003 and this is my story.

I achieved an NVQ 1, 2 and 3 in Carpentry and Joinery. I believe the perfect college course is a combination of onsite facilities, location and tuition quality. South Essex College ticked all these boxes for me, plus they offered courses that suited my ambition and goals.

At school I was not a high achiever and I was an uninspired student. However, I was passionate about my hobbies such as carpentry and joinery. I knew carpentry and joinery is the career path I wanted, but did fear my school grades would prevent me from achieving it. When I left school I decided to pursue my dream, first starting an apprenticeship at Stiltland Joinery in Wickford, Essex. This is when I first began studying for my NVQ level 1, 2 and 3 at South Essex College. During my training I learnt many carpentry and joinery skills. The practical skills I learnt at South Essex College, combined with my apprenticeship at Stiltland Joinery, made me a competent tradesman.

After completing my NVQ course at South Essex College, I used my newly found skills to take part in special commercial projects. Some of these projects were to install reception desks in theatres, casinos and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. I also installed the seating area inside the London eye pods. I have worked for many carpentry and joinery firms and throughout the years I have gained many skills in constructing, erecting, installing, maintaining and repairing fixtures on commercial and residential buildings.

My greatest joy has been working with the public and love contributing to the design process. Having gained extensive experience, I decided to open my own business called
Warton Woodworks ( This business offers home improvement and carpentry services. I also created a DIY blog on my website which offers free construction DIY tips. I also construct bespoke oak furniture which I sell to the public in my spare time. Operating a business takes hard work and dedication. However, getting to that stage requires knowledge, inspiration and guidance. I believe my training at South Essex College gave me the drive and ambition to become a highly skilled carpenter, and to start my own business. It made me a determined individual with a positive and flexible attitude to assuming new roles and responsibilities.

Further education such as NVQ’s force you to problem solve and innovate. These are qualities that are needed in everyday life as a tradesman. I believe these types of courses improve your social skills and ability to solve complex problems. This change of thinking is what I believe is great about further education.
My qualifications prove I have gone through a strict training program. This is highly valuable when operating a business. Customers need to know if the tradesmen they are hiring have the necessary qualifications.

The equipment at South Essex College was very modern, reliable and user friendly. South Essex College has a fantastic reputation, and for good reasons. The College offers many types of courses and facilities. It is also located in an excellent place, near transport links, shops and restaurants. However, the tutors are the main reason to recommend this college. They are passionate and inspirational, this is what I believe students desire most. 15 years ago I finished school with poor qualifications. I now own my own carpentry business, reaching out to customers in Essex and London. I am also qualified in my chosen trade. My biggest achievement is self-transformation. Everybody has the potential to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

I plan to carry on learning from people. I now believe no dream is too big to achieve. All you need is drive, determination and the correct knowledge to succeed. I aspire to carry on giving 100% effort to any task I undertake and be self-disciplined in my work. My time at College helped me develop excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, allowing me to relay necessary information in an articulate and efficient manner. Working in a disciplined environment has developed my analytical skills and ability to handle multiple tasks with constantly changing priorities. I have used my educational and working experience to inspire others to attain their own personnel goals.

My story Dan Bowyers
Access to Higher Education (Health Professions) Level 3 Diploma

Dan Bowyers
Watch Video

Hello I’m Dan, I’m 31, I’m studying Access to Health Professions and this is my story.

I started at the College in September 2014 with ambition of becoming a mental health nurse. I want to help people with drug addictions and alcohol abuse. What inspired me was that I am a recovering alcoholic myself. I have been battling with alcohol for ten years and have now been sober for four years.

On my mission to scout out colleges, I found South Essex College on the website and it seemed like the one for me. It looked large and modern. I didn’t know before about Access courses and when I saw that you didn’t need any previous qualifications I knew it was the place for me and that I could be in university within a year.

I came along to the open day, felt straight at home and loved it, which I have done ever since.

I have had a great experience on the course. The teachers have been great and really helpful. Whenever there is a problem you can always talk to them or email them if it is out of hours. I have also made some really good friends, which is a bonus. It has been really challenging but worth it.

Now my course is coming to an end, I am going to Greenwich University do a three-year course in mental health nursing and then hopefully get a job in the NHS. Eventually my partner and I would like to take our child and work abroad.

I would like to say to anyone who is suffering from an addiction and is maybe a bit worried about coming back into education that it can be done. I am living proof of that. I have been through alot in my life and I never pictured myself here four years ago. I think that if you have the determination and the passion you can get anywhere in life.

2 days 22 hours ago

HE students received their degree awards from Nasser Hussain!

My story Andrew Hall
Creative Media Production (Print Media and Journalism) Level 3 Extended Diploma

Andrew Hall

My name is Andrew Hall, I am 29 years old, I studied GNVQ Intermediate Media and BND Print and Publishing at South Essex College from 2001 to 2004 and this is my story.

My background (along with most of the students I studied with) was that I studied for my GCSEs at school and when I finished I wanted to study something that excited me. I chose to study at South Essex College because I felt the College would give me a better understanding of the field I wanted to investigate. College prepared me for the workplace by making me able to talk to people from all backgrounds. It taught me to know when I should speak and when to listen, when to fight my corner to the bitter end or when I should admit defeat. I learnt that stuff happens - the good and the bad - but what happens next is just as important. If something bad happens you have to pick yourself off the floor, dust yourself off and keep going.

Since completing my course I have had a range of jobs such as working at Essex County Council and Chelmsford City Council. In 2010, I started working on my young adult book reviewing blog called The Pewter Wolf (

For the Pewter Wolf blog I read and review books and then give an honest reaction to the blog readers. I fell into being a book blogger by sheer fluke. I was unemployed and while looking for work I started reading and then writing my thoughts on the book I read online. I didn’t think anything of it when I started, but then publishers and authors talked to me and invited me to blogger events, sending me books in exchange for an honest review and I found myself being part of the book blogger community. At College I learnt different things that made me have a much better understanding of the field I was entering which is hugely important now when I write The Pewter Wolf. Just because I don’t use the equipment I learnt on at College doesn’t mean they haven’t been useful in my life now. It’s how you use those skills that is important.

The great thing about doing further education was that I studied the field that I was interested in. No one told me I had to. I wanted to learn about the world of media and then later the world of publishing. Because I wanted this knowledge I made myself learn it and I had to put the work in. The skills I learnt at College have helped me in both my professional and private life. The College taught me that it is important to listen to my work colleagues and work with them and there are also times when I must use my skills to work alone. It also taught me to voice my thoughts over possible ideas and to ask questions - no matter how big or small they are.

I think my favourite memory of being at College was my first day. I remember the excitement and nerves over what was going to happen next. Meeting my fellow classmates, who felt exactly the same as me as no one knew what was going to happen next. Then getting straight into it. That, I think, is my fave memory. Earlier this year The Pewter Wolf was nominated for three awards with the UKYA Blogger Awards. These awards are the first (to my knowledge) to be supported by publishers and recognise the hard work that book bloggers do. I won one award; Blogger’s Blogger, which is a huge honour as I still feel like I am faking my way through reviewing books at times.

My ambition is to keep working hard at The Pewter Wolf and continue reading books so that my review may make one person think: “That sounds like something I like”, and discover a book or author that they love. I feel that my time at the College built my confidence up and it was the start of me getting comfortable in my own skin. College was the kick I needed to realise that I didn’t need to please everyone. I had to please myself and make myself happy. It took a long time to get there (and I think we all have a long way to go) but College was very much the starting block! I would recommend South Essex College because it gave me space to grow. Not just in what I was learning, but personally as well.