DfE mistakenly gives university intervention powers to FE Commissioner

New policy doc to be retracted after accidentally expanding FECs remit into HE

New policy doc to be retracted after accidentally expanding FECs remit into HE

18 Apr 2024, 19:46

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The government has said it will retract a new policy document after mistakenly giving the FE commissioner powers to intervene in universities.

A fresh “post-16 intervention and accountability” guide was released by the Department for Education today to show the ways officials tackle poor performance in different types of education providers.

For higher education institutions, the guidance made clear that the department does not undertake financial assessments of those that also provide further education provision, like apprenticeships, as this is a job for HE regulator the Office for Students.

But in a surprising addition, the document said that if a higher education provider receives an ‘inadequate’ judgment from Ofsted for any further education provision it delivers, then the “FE Commissioner may undertake an assessment of the capacity and capability of current leadership and management”.

The FE Commissioner “would then make recommendations to the minister about appropriate intervention action”.

DfE guidance published April 18 2024

This would mark a remarkable expansion of the FE Commissioner’s remit, which has to date only included further education colleges and local authorities. 

The FE Commissioner, an independent adviser post currently held by Shelagh Legrave, leads the DfE’s oversight of struggling colleges and publishes reports on leadership capacity and capability for those in formal intervention.

However, the DfE has since backtracked on the guidance and claimed it was published in error when approached for further information by FE Week.

The department said the FE Commissioner does not have a role in higher education institutions and the page concerned is being withdrawn.

The page was still live at the time of going to press.

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