An independent commission has launched today to set out a new vision for colleges in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The Independent Commission on the College of the Future will be chaired by Sir Ian Diamond – who led the overhaul of Welsh higher education funding and the introduction of maintenance grants to cover costs for full-time and part-time students.
The commission also features prominent names from industry, education, media, and the union movement, as well as national and international experts, including Jisc’s CEO, Paul Feldman, together with key UK stakeholders.
Its purpose is to help colleges meet key challenges, from demographic change, to technological revolution, from the changing labour market, to evolving individual expectations. To that end, the commission will be working with partners to prepare colleges for the challenges ahead by answering the question – what does the college of the future look like?
The commission is supported by organisations from across the FE and skills sector, including Jisc, the Association of Colleges (AoC), Colleges Scotland, Colleges Cymru, the colleges in Northern Ireland, Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), NOCN, City & Guilds and Pearson.
Sir Ian Diamond said:
“Colleges are a central part of our education systems right across the UK. But with so many critical challenges facing us, nationally and internationally – from changes in technology, aspirations, jobs and climate, to name just a few – colleges must take an ever more central place in public policy, as they are critically important for people and communities.
“The Independent Commission brings together a formidable team of experts and leaders to ask the fundamental questions about the role and place of colleges across all four corners of the UK. We will be putting forward clear recommendations, as we seek to ensure that colleges are able to play the critical role that they must – so that people have the right opportunities to get on in life, that no community is left behind, and that governments across the UK are able to meet the challenges of the future.”
Jisc CEO, Paul Feldman, said:
“Jisc enables colleges to transform into digitally efficient and confident organisations capable of upskilling the current workforce and preparing our young people for future careers. But they need support if they are to continue to meet the rising expectations of students and produce technically skilled labour the UK economy needs.
“I am delighted to be part of the expert panel and look forward to helping the commission provide the direction and clout colleges require to thrive in future. I believe this collaboration will help deliver Jisc’s vision to transform education and support our colleges and skills providers in preparing for the fourth industrial revolution.”
David Hughes, chief executive, AoC, said:
“I am delighted that the commission is being launched at such a pivotal time for colleges. We have worked hard to raise the profile of colleges and to make the case for their vital roles in helping deliver inclusive economic growth, stronger communities and a more tolerant and just society. This commission will be able to provide the compelling vision of those roles as well as the support colleges need to flourish.”