A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries.
Australia has had a system of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges for many years. Training is conducted under the National Training System, the Australian system for vocational education and training (VET) under the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF), in which employers, the States of Australia, and the Commonwealth Government, formalise a curriculum available for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to teach and assess the competency of students. Courses are part of the Australian Qualifications Framework.
TAFEs or their outlying schools are in most large towns, and cities.
In Canada, the 150 institutions that are the rough equivalent of the US community college are usually referred to as "colleges" since in common usage a degree granting institution is almost exclusively a university. In the province of Quebec, even when speaking in English, colleges are called Cégeps for Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, meaning "College of General and Vocational Education". Colleges are educational institution providing higher education and tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Each Province has its own system of Colleges reflecting the decentralization of the Canadian Education system as provided for in The Constitution Act, 1867. However virtually all of them began in the mid 1960's as a response to the shortage of skilled immigrants as the wave of post second World War II Europeans began to decline just as the Canadian economy was beginning to expand rapidly. The motivation was economic as opposed to the much earlier start in the United States of Junior and Community Colleges which was driven by an integrative social policy.
Community colleges in Malaysia are a network of educational institutions whereby vocational and technical skills training could be provided at all levels for school leavers before they entered the workforce. The community colleges also provide an infrastructure for rural communities to gain skills training through short courses as well as providing access to a post-secondary education.
At the moment, most community colleges award qualifications up to Level 3 in the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (Certificate 3) in both the Skills sector (Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia or the Malaysian Skills Certificate) as well as the Vocational and Training sector but the number of community colleges that are starting to award Level 4 qualifications (Diploma) are increasing. This is two levels below a Bachelor's degree (Level 6 in the MQF) and students within the system who intend to further their studies to that level will usually seek entry into Advanced Diploma programs in public universities, polytechnics or accredited private providers.
In the Philippines, a community school functions as elementary or secondary school at daytime and towards the end of the day convert into a community college. This type of institution offers night classes under the supervision of the same principal, and the same faculty members who are given part time college teaching load.
The concept of community college dates back to the time of the former Minister of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS) that had under its wings the Bureaus of Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Higher Education and Vocational-Technical Education. MECS Secretary, Dr. Cecilio Putong, who in 1971 wrote that a community school is a school established in the community, by the community, an for the community itself. Dr. Pedro T. Orata of Pangasinan shared the same idea, hence the establishment of a Community College, now called the City College of Urdaneta.
In the United Kingdom, community college is a name given to, or added on to, a secondary school, usually offering extended services of some sort, for example by having achieved a status as a technology college or by providing adult education courses. Community colleges throughout the countries of the UK teach General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) courses and if the college incorporates a Sixth Form, A-levels, Scottish Higher, or other vocational qualifications (such as a GNVQ or an HND for example).
In the United States, community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges, technical colleges, or city colleges, are primarily two-year public institutions providing higher education and lower-level tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas, and associate's degrees.
Before the 1970s, community colleges in the United States were more commonly referred to as junior colleges, and that term is still used at some institutions. However, the term "junior college" has evolved to describe private two-year institutions, whereas the term "community college" has evolved to describe publicly funded two-year institutions. The name derives from the fact that community colleges primarily attract and accept students from the local community, and are often supported by local tax revenue.
Many schools have evolved into and adapted the term Comprehensive to describe their institutions. These schools typically offer five facets of education.
Within the Transfer Education category, comprehensive schools typically have articulation agreements in place that provide prearranged acceptance into specific four-year institutions. At some community colleges, the partnering four-year institution teaches the third and fourth year courses at the community college location and thereby allows a student to obtain a four year degree without having to physically move to the four-year school.
There are a number of institutions and organizations which provide community college research to inform practice and policy.
There are a number of research organizations and publications
who focus upon the activities of community college, junior college,
and technical college institutions.
Many of these institutions and organizations present the most current research and practical outcomes at annual community college conferences.