One of the most prominent college principals behind the drive to bring further education into the limelight has been rewarded with an OBE, writes Lucy Ward.
Colin Flint, principal of Solihull College and a long-time campaigner for FE, was named in the New Year's Honours list for services to education.
In 1989, when the colleges' independence from local education authorities was barely a gleam in the eyes of ministers, Mr Flint led a small group of principals on a visit to United States community colleges.
The principals, impressed with the high profile afforded to the sector across the Atlantic, founded the Further Education Campaign Group to aim for similar success in Britain.
The core group swiftly attracted other supporters and began lobbying for greater prominence for the sector. Its message stressing the importance of colleges to national development, caught the attention of ministers as plans for incorporation and the national training targets began to crystallise.
Since the campaign group was wound up by its members with the emergence of the Association for Colleges, its chairman has remained a significant voice in FE. FE chief inspector Terry Melia, rumoured to have nominated him for his award, praises his "outstanding contribution which brought further education into the limelight".
But the principal himself, a radical thinker who now finds himself brought firmly into the bosom of the establishment, remains suitably self-effacing about his new honour. "I never want to see those letters after my name in The TES," said Mr Flint, OBE.