The Independent Commission on the College of the Future rightly calls on college leaders to drive forward a positive change agenda, rather than waiting for someone else to tell them what to do, says David Hughes.

The English report from the Independent Commission on the College of the Future sets out a compelling vision, one that I hope will be reflected in the upcoming FE white paper, and which I am also confident
will lay the foundations for colleges in years to come.

The independent commission reached its recommendations and proposals following engagement with people at more than 150 roundtables, with college leaders and academics, unions, businesses, cross-party politicians, stakeholders, government officials and students. They covered large swathes of complex policy and strategy, with input and agreement on the way forward from a breadth of voices within FE and beyond. The commission also consulted in November 2019 to elicit responses and ideas from a wide range of people.

The recommendations need to be considered in their totality

The vision is supported by a detailed set of recommendations that need to be considered in their totality – with a recognition that amplifying the role of colleges as key strategic partners within the education and skills ecosystem is a collective responsibility for all.

I am glad the commission has challenged us all to think about the role of colleges now and in the future – calling college leaders to drive forward a positive change agenda, rather than waiting for someone else to tell colleges what to do. At AoC we have engaged members through our policy groups, regional meetings and our board and will continue to ensure members’ feedback, through all of the channels available, informs our policy and influencing work.

The commission has achieved a consensus about the future vision and place of colleges and has set out detailed recommendations for how to achieve that. In England, it is clear from what Gavin Williamson said at our FE Summit this week, that the DfE white paper that we expect soon will help move towards
that vision.

AoC will continue to ensure members’ feedback informs our policy

I look forward to seeing the details of that and working with AoC members to respond to it at the appropriate time.

Meanwhile, the commission report will provide food for thought for every college leader, employers and
stakeholders interested in supporting colleges to deliver for people, productivity and place.

Read all sides of the argument for The Independent Commission on the College of the Future’s recommendation that colleges should be forced into local ‘networks’: