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FE leader calls for UTC inquiry after second college failure

A leading figure in further education has called for an independent review into the university technical college programme after it was announced that a second college would close.

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group of colleges, said news of the closure of Black Country UTC this week raised some “serious questions” about the future of the initiative.

She told TES: “It needs to be investigated. There should be an independent review to really see what’s happening here.

“How are they providing value for money? Are they genuinely meeting demand? We are getting failures at a very early stage. There’s a serious anomaly in this – the model must be flawed somewhere.”

Black Country UTC, which is sponsored by Walsall College and the University of Wolverhampton, was the second UTC to be opened under the programme in 2011.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the colleges’ governors say the decision to close was based on “a recent disappointing inspection, a thorough assessment of actual and projected student numbers, financial challenges, staffing capacity and the impact these will have on standards of teaching and learning”.

The college will close in August, the same month as the flagship Hackney UTC in London is due to close owing to a falling pupil roll.

There are currently 30 UTCs  across England, with 20 more due to open by 2016. They offer technical, practical and academic courses to 14- to 19-year-olds, specialising in subjects where there is a shortage of skills. The programme was pioneered by former education secretary Lord Baker.

Related stories

Second UTC to close due to 'financial challenges' – April 2015

Conservatives promise UTCs 'within reach of every city' – April 2015

Flagship University Technical College to close due to falling pupil numbers – July 2014

Labour review calls for University Technical Colleges to tackle skills gap – July 2014

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