Skip to main content

Post-16 Education review announcements - AoC response

24 February 2022

Association of Colleges, the national voice for England's colleges, has responded to the government's announcements about Post-16 education and the next steps in the Augar Review process.

Colleges across England educate and train more than two million people each year, and more than two thirds of colleges offer higher education.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

"A fairer higher education system will support colleges to deliver flexibly, part-time to adults who would not otherwise benefit from studies at that level. Until now, the HE system has been designed to favour full-time, mainly young Bachelor degree students. A key test of these proposals therefore is how far they enhance opportunities for adults and support college HE to grow whilst protecting what universities do so well.

Importantly, though, we need to see how the proposals knit with other FE reforms which need to support millions more adults with skills and training to help them get on in work, escape low-paid and precarious jobs and step up to the higher-level skills needed in the modern labour market. The Lifelong Learning Entitlement must be complemented by learning that helps every adult access higher level education and training.

This consultation has been a very long time coming and implementation is some time off. We would like to see the promise of the Lifelong Learning Entitlement – access for every adult to flexible, part-time, and local training throughout a person’s lifetime as their circumstances and industry changes – to be delivered as soon as possible. Government needs to stop talking about a Lifelong Learning Entitlement and get on and deliver it.

We will carefully examine the proposals on minimum entry requirements, maintenance support and the role of colleges before we can comment on the potential impact of these reforms. There is a risk to adult widening participation because adults often enter college HE without a suite of GCSEs or A Levels and go onto good outcomes, including good jobs and promotions; excluding them through a minimum entry requirement would be perverse."