‘I am an optimist about the future – young people have much better opportunities’

Over the past four decades, Peter Lauener has seen FE change beyond recognition. The current chair of Newcastle College Group and interim head of the Student Loans Company talks to Julia Belgutay about how far the sector has come, where it might be going next and how he was persuaded to put off retirement – for a little while longer, at least

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For now, Peter Lauener has put off retirement. He had it all planned. His time as chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had come to an end and a permanent chief executive at the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) had been appointed. He was almost out the door. But then he received a phone call, asking him to step in – for a short time only – as chief executive of the Student Loans Company.

“I was dead-set on retirement, but I was asked if I would do this for six months and I thought it would be completely different and interesting. There were well-publicised ...

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