It is often claimed that the further education sector has an image problem; that too few students give it serious consideration, that it is seen as a second choice, only good enough for those who don't succeed academically.
But Richard Gillingwater, writing in today's issue of TES, argues that this is an “unfair impression”.
The branding expert thinks further education has a great story to tell, but no one seems to be listening.
He spent six months researching the FE sector and speaking to the people who work within it – the results of this vast project can be found in today's magazine, where Mr Gillingwater says if there was ever a time to be excited by what it has to offer, this is it.
“As the economy emerges blinking into the light of recovery, millions of adults are keen to re-skill themselves for the jobs that are becoming available,” he writes.
“They should be looking to FE. At the same time, rising university tuition fees – up to £9,000 in some cases – are forcing young people and their families into a process of cost-benefit analysis. In a great many cases, the higher education sector has been deemed a bad investment.”
On the face of it little is wrong with the FE sector, yet the reputation problem persists, he argues.
“FE may be doing well despite the negative connotations, but how much better could it be doing without them?”
He says FE’s national brand needs to be rebuilt, and unveils his plan to help the sector make people sit up and take notice.
Read the full article in the 3 October edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.