THE FURTHER Education Development Agency is to appoint a full-time member of staff at each government office for the regions in England and Wales as part of its campaign to raise its profile.
Chris Hughes, chief executive, said a FEDA presence in the regions would strengthen the organisation and enable it to get much closer to the colleges.
He wants to create FEDA as the national developmental centre for further education. "It has got to be at the leading edge for ideas, offering strategic policy advice," he said.
He has already had talks with Dave Gibson, the chief executive of the Association of Colleges, who took up office this week.
In the past, when the AOC was led by Roger Ward, the association was dismissive of FEDA and harboured ideas of taking it over. But all of that is now over.
"Dave Gibson and I have been a long time in the sector. We are two ex-principals and we understand what the sector wants.
"The colleges look to FEDA to help them with the new agenda, new ways of working, new challenges involved in widening participation and raising achievement.
"The Government has given FE a favourable settlement but on a clear set of terms. As never before, FEDA has been asked to deliver."
FEDA will also be establishing a new policy unit. "We will be using a lot of external inputs and provide a vehicle for strategic thinking. We will be analysing policy both inside and outside the world of education.
"We shall also link up with other policy think-tanks, and pull in influential people to help us to formulate strategy.
"FEDA should be a place where there is a lot of original, challenging thinking. Part of the new agenda for the AOC is strategic thinking and being politically aware. Our job is to be excellent at research and highly supportive of colleges in coping with an increasingly complex and sophisticated system.
"We want to raise the profile of FEDA substantially and be known for our thinking, research and ideas. If you want a place at the table, you have to have something to say."