Association of Colleges has today released a report outlining the impact of competition on the post-16 education system. It argues that competition has had a negative effect on choice, quality and the delivery of specialist courses, and that collaboration and coordination through a placed-based approach would better meet the needs of students and employers.
Addressing insufficiency, inefficiency, inequity, and poor quality is crucial to achieving a post – 16 education and skills system that works for those who need it. Getting the right skilled people into emerging economies and creating strong, well-resourced colleges with clear missions will support local and regional demand and needs as the country rebuilds.
The report sets out a set of recommendations for reform that will be vital to the future success of the people, places and businesses colleges serve:
- Area co-ordination of provision to support sufficiency, efficiency, quality and equality. Through a single post-16 commissioning and regulatory process which applies to all providers to end siloed regulation. With clear conditions for funding, market entry and continued market presence based on strong local co-ordination.
- Investing in anchor institutions as hubs for specialist or ‘minority’ provision. That allows providers which have the track record and capacity to deliver specialist or ‘minority’ programmes successfully and efficiently to have ‘first call’ on investment.
- A rules-based framework coordinated by the Department for Education that includes: target minimum and average class sizes for all providers, subject level viability models based on cohort size, ringfencing of 16-19 funding for 16-19 learners and a requirement for providers to engage with area coordination, with a duty to establish network strategies.