Don't let institutes of technology create extra competition for colleges, principal warns

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The government's proposed institutes of technology should not add to the competition colleges already face, a principal has warned.

Ministers have called for one of the specialist new institutions to be created in each local enterprise partnership area. They should “operate collaboratively and complement other providers, including FE and sixth-form colleges”, according to official guidance.

But speaking at the Association of Colleges' annual conference in Birmingham today, Brockenhurst College principal Di Roberts raised concerns that they could create extra competition for existing general FE colleges.

“Institutes of technology need to be about collaboration, not creating more competition,” she said. “If it becomes about competition, we will have failed…We have got to collaborate to come up with an FE system, and if we throw something into the mix that is going to distort that, it is not going to enable us to take the opportunity we have to not just financially save the FE system, but also structurally and strategically really make a fundamental difference.”

David Russell, chief executive of the Education and Training Foundation, said it was up to colleges to shape institutes of technology. “If you want to know what an institute of technology is, don’t wait for civil servants to tell you. Nobody knows better, more clearly and ambitiously what institutes of technology can or could be than people who already run successful further education institutions,” he said.

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