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Definition: Post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4)

Education - ISCED

Post-secondary non-tertiary education provides learning and educational activities building on secondary education preparing for both labour market entry as well as tertiary education. It typically targets students who have completed upper secondary (ISCED level 3) but who want to increase their opportunities either to enter the labour market or to progress to tertiary education. Programmes are often not significantly more advanced than those at upper secondary as they typically serve to broaden rather than deepen knowledge, skills and competencies. It therefore aims at learning below the high level of complexity characteristic of tertiary education (ISCED 2011).

ISCED level 4 captures programmes that straddle the boundary between upper-secondary and post-secondary education from an international point of view, even though they might clearly be considered as upper-secondary or post-secondary programmes in a national context. ISCED level 4 programmes can, considering their content, not be regarded as tertiary programmes. They are often not significantly more advanced than programmes at ISCED level 3 but they serve to broaden the knowledge of participants who have already completed a programme at level 3. Typical examples are programmes designed to prepare students for studies at level 5 who, although having completed ISCED level 3, did not follow a curriculum which would allow entry to level 5, i.e. pre-degree foundation courses or short vocational programmes. Second cycle programmes can be included as well.

This level includes adult education. For example, technical courses given during an individual's professional life on specific subjects as computer software could be included in this level (ISCED 1997). UNESCO, "International Standard Classification of Education", ISCED 1997
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), "International Standard Classification of Education - ISCED 2011", Paris, September 2011