Ninety per cent of college managers believe colleges need to become more commercial, according to new research.
The new report says that the changes facing the college sector have led nine out of 10 college leaders to believe a shift to a more commercial agenda is “imperative”.
The poll, to be published tomorrow by the Gazelle College Group, a group of further education colleges promoting entrepreneurship, finds that two-thirds believe colleges will need to adopt a private sector mentality in order to be successful in the future.
It quotes one respondent as saying: “There is no choice but to commercialise colleges – government policy is changing so radically and redefining the landscape that colleges need to mirror that.”
And three in four respondents feel that the need for more diverse income streams is unlikely to negatively affect the student experience.
“They believe that commercialisation and a quality student experience are not mutually exclusive,” states the report.
“These respondents maintained that the changes to the FE landscape will present students with two clear benefits: jobs and quality.”
While there is agreement on the need for colleges to change, there is less consensus on the sector’s ability to do so, according to the research.
Only two out of 10 college leaders believe that every college can transform its operating model to a truly commercial one, it finds.
The research summarises face-to-face interviews with 43 senior leaders in further education. According to the report, those interviewed believe that changes in the college landscape could lead to “the demise of smaller colleges and those in current financial difficulties”.