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FE governors to be scrutinised by researchers

Studying governance in FE is timely because of college mergers and pressures on budgets, the research leader says

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Studying governance in FE is timely because of college mergers and pressures on budgets, the research leader says

The work of governors in further education will be put in the spotlight thanks to a £1 million research grant.

The Economic and Social Research Council has awarded a grant to a team of researchers led by the University of Stirling to study governance in the FE sector.

Professor Cate Watson will lead a team of researchers from Stirling, Birmingham and Cardiff to investigate the processes and practices of governance in colleges across the UK.

Observing eight colleges

The project, which will run for three years from April, will watch boards in action at eight colleges to see how they meet the needs of learners, employers and labour markets.

Professor Watson said the research was timely because of college mergers and pressure to make savings. She added: “FE is currently undergoing extensive restructuring leading to fewer, larger colleges with the aim of offering increased efficiency and resilience.

'Fundamental change'

“Such rationalisation can be expected to foster fundamental change, which has considerable implications for leadership and governance. This makes the research here both highly significant and timely.

“Governing boards have received little attention from researchers. Most research has focused on structures and procedures in terms of formal accountability mechanisms while little is known about the processes and practices of governing, and how these relate to leadership and the aims and outcomes of the organisation."

The research team also includes Stirling’s Dr Gary Husband and Honorary Professor Ron Hill, Professor David James, from the University of Cardiff; and the University of Birmingham’s Professor Ann-Marie Bathmaker.

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