And, apart from students still wearing flares, he finds that so much has changed. "When I started it was a very different world, local- authority controlled," he says. "The real contrast is that the college is clearly in charge of its destiny."
Before taking the new post in January, Daniels was head of education policy at the FEFC, where he had worked for seven years. Prior to that he was assistant chief education officer in Dudley metropolitan borough, with responsibilities for post-16 education, careers service and youth and community provision.
All this experience should stand him in good stead at New College, which has become the biggest in the United Kingdom following a series of mergers over the past 18 months.
Geoff Daniels says Nottingham itself represents a huge challenge to FE:the city's performance at GCSE is among the lowest in the country.
"There's a massive issue about raising the level of achievement and skills in the area. This college has a major responsibility to do that. And there's a real sense of having a key part to play in the life of one of Britain's biggest cities."
He admits adjusting to the college environment took some getting used to.
"But it's not all that different," he says. "There is some overlap because the role I had at the FEFC has some real resonance here as well."
With the arrival of the Learning and Skills Council and the imminent demise of the funding council, was the move a matter of jumping ship? Daniels says not.
"In many ways the opportunities for people staying at the FEFC are better and wider than ever. Its staff are extremely well placed to take a major part in the new Learning and Skills Council.
"So I was torn, but the attractions of New College won out. It was an opportunity that wasn't going to come again - and certainly not to work with such a dynamic institution."
Blackpool and the Flyde Jean Nettleship head of adult education at Runshaw, becomes head of the school of academic studies in March.
Maggie Dollin-Evans head of department at Park Lane becomes head of school of tourism lesiure and hospitality.
Brookands John Foster is director of finance and property services. He was group accountant at RAF Bentley Priory.
Christ the King VI Form Rob McAuliffe is now associate principal, joining from Bromley College.
Grimsby Alan Parkin moves from the Audit Commission to become director of finance.
Arthur Whitehead depute Head of Faculty at Perth, joins as divisional manager construction and engineering.
Highlands, Jersey Dr Gary Jones director of the digital curriculum becomes deputy principal in April.
High Pavement SFC Norma Honey formerly acting head becomes head.
New College Nottingham Geoff Daniels director of policy and strategy at the FEFC, joins as director of the policy and standards unit.
Isle of Wight Lesley Stannard becomes director of human resources. She was head of faculty (business studies) at Huntingdon.
Jo Whiting the college accountant, becomes director of finance and management services.
Kidderminster Derek Harrison joins as director of finance and administration from Strode where he was director of finance and corporate services.
Newham Chris Leadbeater is executive director (technology). He joins from Solihull.
Pembrokeshire Sharron Lushner formerly faculty manager business information, becomes assistant principal.
Pendleton Michael Sheehan is the new principal. He was vice principal of Runshaw.
Redcar and Cleveland Susan Prichard becomes personnel manger. She joins from Darlington.
Richmond (AE) Christina Conroy deputy principal at North Hertfordshire became principal.
Tendring (Adult Community) Christine Bradshaw is now principal. She was head of social and support studies at North Hertfordshire.
Uxbridge Cathy Walsh becomes vice principal. She joins from North West London where she was head of languages and humanities.
FEFC Elaine Carabok is now a funding manager.
Sheila Child becomes inspector for hairdressing and beauty.
Mike Collier becomes deputy regional director (eastern region).
Mary Heslop is assistant director (students and curriculum).
Patrick Rooney becomes regional director (Yorkshire amp; Humberside).
Keith Standing becomes a funding manager.
FEDA Linda Bye development adviser, managing quality improvement.
Steve Gill development adviser, skills learning and work, seconded from British.
Aerospace David Horsburgh adviser: key skills.
Michael Ratcliffe adviser: skills learning and work.