The Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) have welcomed news that FE providers can finally sign up for Chartered Status.
The Chartered Institution for Further Education (CIFE), which was granted the Great Seal of the Realm in October having been set up in 2013, announced on November 17 that colleges and independent learning providers (ILPs) could apply for membership.
Providers who wish to become CIFE members must pay a £3,000 non-refundable fee to have their application reviewed.
The annual subscription fee for successful applicants is £5,000.
David Corke, director of education and skills policy at the AoC, said: “The Chartered Institution for Further Education is in its infancy and we’ll be keen to ensure it provides genuine added value to colleges and their current and future students.
“We look forward to discussing this with CIFE’s representatives.”
Stewart Segal, chief executive of the AELP, said: “Any initiative to improve the external perception of the sector is welcome.
“Training providers have to be committed to the quality of their delivery and will consider a number of approaches including the Chartered Institute of FE.”
CIFE regulations and guidance for applicants, available on its website, detail the standards that colleges and training providers need to meet in order to join.
To be considered for membership, colleges and training providers must have an overall rating of good or outstanding at their most recent Ofsted inspection, and be in receipt of public funding from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
Colleges and ILPs must also show how they can meet the CIFE quality standards, covering a range of areas including teaching and learning, governance, finance and engagement with the local community and employers.
“This is another significant step along the road to the development of a Royal Chartered body in the FE sector,” said Lord Lingfield, chair of CIFE.
“There is still much to be done but we have reached the point when we should open our doors to organisational members, and bring together those high performing organisations who are key to shaping the sector’s future.”
Plans were originally drawn up, by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, for the Royal seal of approval to be granted to high-achieving FE institutions in July 2012.
It was almost another year before the appointment of Lord Lingfield as chair of the IfE.
In March last year, he told FE Week he expected “negotiations to be completed within months” that would allow for the quality mark to be launched.
But an FE Week survey on the mark, carried out two months later, uncovered concern that the Chartered Status initiative could simply “sink without trace, before further worries earlier this year that it had “stalled” after no sign of movement.
Click here for more details on applying for Chartered Status.