The Chartered Institution for Further Education would need to attract "80 or 90 members" in order to generate enough funding to be entirely self-sufficient, Lord Lingfield has revealed.
In an exclusive interview with Tes, the chair of the CIFE said that "around 100 providers" have already expressed an interest in joining.
At present, the institution – which received its royal charter in 2015 – has four members: Blackpool and The Fylde; Bridgwater and Taunton; and Furness colleges; and independent provider Hawk Training.
When asked how large he expected the organisation to grow, the peer said: “I’m not going to make a prediction. But I want the institution, within several years, to rely wholly on its own income, as opposed to the subsidy from government it gets at the moment. In order to do that, it would require probably a minimum of 80 or 90 members. That is what we’ve got to be aiming at, in order to ensure we can financially stand on our own feet.”
FE’s answer to the Russell Group?
According to CIFE’s annual reports, it received more than £420,000 in grants from the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in its first two years.
But the CIFE has no intention of lowering its entry requirements in order to attract more fee-paying members – this would be “disastrous”, Lord Lingfield stressed.
So will the CIFE become FE’s answer to the Russell Group of elite universities? “The answer to that is both yes and no," the peer said. "The reason for that is that every provider in the land, providing that it reaches the institution’s high standards for entry, could become a member.”
The CIFE's founder also hit out at the delays in getting the institution off the ground. The two years it took for the charter to be awarded was “far too long”, according to Lord Lingfield – a problem he puts down to the “unthinkably obtuse” bureaucracy required to steer it through several government bodies.
The full interview with Lord Lingfield is in the 31 March edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. Your new-look TES magazine is available at all good newsagents.