The next government should protect the college title and place the institute at the heart of the national infrastructure, the Association of Colleges (AoC) has said.
In its general election "manifesto", published today, the AoC is calling on the political parties and prospective candidates to back colleges as vital institutions in an education system that works for everyone.
The AoC says the pace of technological, demographic, labour market and social change requires a re-think on how the UK invests in people throughout their adult lives.
The manifesto is built around five “pledges”, including “a new place for colleges with a streamlined regulatory regime which gives colleges a protected title that places colleges at the heart of the national infrastructure”, as well as “ensuring no young person is left behind”. It also calls on the next government to commit to investment and long-term funding for colleges.
Tes FE podcast: General election 2019 special
'Invest more in young people'
AoC chief executive David Hughes said: “This election is set to be highly unpredictable as the chaos of Brexit continues to dominate. The pledges we set out today speak to some of the most pressing challenges every country faces. Now more than ever, we need a system in which colleges, and most importantly their students, can thrive and succeed. Colleges educate the next generation of workers in this country as well as the people already in work.
“The successful countries will invest more in young people to prepare them for longer and to be adaptable in changing labour markets and invest in re-training and supporting people to stay up to date as their jobs change or disappear. Colleges are ready to deliver more for young people and adults, helping employers to get the skilled people they need and supporting communities to be part of economic growth. To achieve that, the next government must deliver on our five sets of proposals.”
13 of the AoC manifesto’s proposals
The next government should:
- Review the complex and overlapping regulatory and funding regime in which colleges operate and commit to streamlining and simplifying arrangements.
- Confer a protected title on colleges to instil confidence in potential students.
- Offer three-year funding agreements, focused more on outcomes.
- Develop a 10-year capital plan and a college workforce strategy including recruitment incentives.
- Take action to ensure that every 16-year-old stays in education or takes up a training place by funding a broad curriculum in every part of the country, including A levels, T levels, applied general courses, apprenticeships and transition programmes.
- Increase the per-student 16 to 18 rate to £5,000 and fund 18-year-olds in further education at the same level as younger 16- to 18-year-olds.
- Introduce a post-16 premium to help close the attainment gap.
- Take a new approach to improving English and maths skills for 16- to 18-year-olds.
- Double the adult education budget by 2025 and allow more flexibility for colleges in how they use the adult education budget to meet local needs and priorities.
- Double the number of apprentices taking and completing programmes at advanced and higher levels and develop a more sustainable apprenticeship funding model.
- Ensure that the programmes currently supported by the European Social Fund continue.
- Introduce maintenance support for adults wanting to study full time to achieve a level 2 or level 3 qualification.
- Improve the mental health support services for young people and adults through investment in better NHS – college delivery partnerships.