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Our Work Across the UK and Ireland

AoC is the secretariat for two programmes of work across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

By bringing together college leaders, stakeholders from across education, skills and employment and officials, these programmes are important vehicles for contributing to the development of practice and policy across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The purpose of the work is to lead the conversation about a ‘reimagining’ of the role of colleges over the coming decade and beyond.


Established in 2017, The College Alliance is a collaborative network that brings together college Principals/ Chief Executives from across England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales and their college membership bodies, alongside senior government officials from the national governments and funding bodies, and other sector partners. Aligned with the vision set forth by the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, they are committed to championing the "reimagining" of colleges over the next decade.

The Alliance exist to:

  • Share lessons and best practice from across the different national systems: Serve as a forum for discussions on the post 16 education and skills systems across the UK and Republic of Ireland, supporting learnings from the diverse approaches.
  • Support thought leadership and long-term thinking: Committed to sector development, including through commissioning policy work and research. The Alliance provides a space for sector leaders to come together to lead long-term thinking – reflecting on what we need from our post 16 education and skills system as we look at the challenges and changes we face nationally, and internationally.
  • Providing a space for peer exchange: Bringing together leaders from across the different national systems, from wider government and the wider sector - seeking to galvanise further work between leaders, across national boundaries.

Colleges play a pivotal role in supporting economic and societal development. They are poised to lead the way in strengthening our communities, enhancing skills and driving the workforce of the future. The College Alliance are dedicated to advancing the college sector to play its fullest possible role for people, productivity and place.

    The Alliance commissioned the work of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, Chaired by Sir Ian Diamond.

    Find out more about the college alliance


    Commissioned by the Four Nations College Alliance, the Independent Commission on the College of the Future brings together a group of experts to ask two simple but fundamental questions:

    1. What do we want and need from colleges in 10 years’ time?
    2. What changes are needed in order to achieve this?

    Following extensive consultation with the sector and its stakeholders throughout 2019 and 2020, the Commission shared our vision for the college of the future – centred around the role of colleges for people, productivity and place. The Commission’s final reports for the whole of the UK (2020) and reports for each nation (2020-21) set out recommendations to deliver on this vision.

    The Commissioners - chaired by Sir Ian Diamond - guide the work and are drawn from a broad range of organisations, experiences and perspectives across the UK.

    The Commission’s focus has since been on exploring important themes from the work and collaborating with partners across education and skills. In 2022 the Commission has focussed on how colleges collaborate with universities.

    Find out more about The Independent Commission on the College of the Future