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Surveys and Research

AoC conducts a number of in-house surveys on a wide range of issues affecting colleges. We use this research to support our representation work to MPs, Government officials and the media. The research also provides colleges with useful benchmarking data.

AoC also carries out research projects on its own and in partnership with other organisations. We also commission external research.

Investigating the impact of the apprenticeship levy on training outcomes - January 2024

A report that AoC commissioned from London Economics on recent trends in apprenticeships. Key findings include:

  • apprenticeship starts fell by 33% (160k) overall from 2014/15 to 2022/23
  • the biggest loss was for younger ages, ‘under 19’ and ‘19-24’ reduced by 100k starts between 2017 and 2022
  • there was significant decline in the number of apprentices from deprived areas. Proportion from most deprived areas fell from 26% to 20%, whilst from least deprived areas starts rose from 14% to 18
  • large decline in intermediate (Level 2) starts and rapid rise in higher apprenticeship starts
  • North-East and Yorkshire and the Humber regions suffered greatest relative fall in starts, whilst relative decline in London and the South-East was much lower
  • retail apprenticeships have been particularly affected, whilst other subject areas (e.g. business and law, health and social care) saw substantial decline in Level 2 but increased Level 4+ starts
  • Starts for SMEs equalled 54% of all starts in 2014/15, but only 41% in 2020/21 (with the number of starts from SME employers halving in absolute terms

Despite the high level of overall investment in post-16 education, employers in England spend less on training than their OECD counterparts, skills shortages are growing and millions of adults risk being left behind as more jobs require stronger digital skills

Forecasting the cost of the English HE funding system - November 2023

AoC commissioned London Economics to create a model to forecast the costs to government of four scenarios for higher education in 2030-31. The model takes account of forecast changes in population and participation based on current behaviour.

The four scenarios are a continuation of current trends, no growth in entry numbers, higher growth and a shift towards Level 4 and 5 provision. The report demonstrates that the costs of government will growth significantly over the coming demand.

In the baseline scenario (in which growth continues on the trend of the past three years), the number of first-year English domiciled undergraduate students (studying anywhere in the UK) is predicted to increase from approximately 522,000 in 2023-24 to 683,000 in 2030-31 (a 31% increase). This would see the total loan outlay in 2030-31 forecast to be roughly £25.63bn, including £12.14bn in maintenance loans and £13.50bn in tuition fee loans issued to students in that year – and with the total estimated ‘net’ (i.e. RAB-adjusted) cost of the English undergraduate HE funding system in 2030-31 standing at approximately £3.14bn.

The analysis also projects outlay and costs up to 2030-31 under three other scenarios, or no growth, higher growth, and a shift to growing Level 4 and 5 standalone qualifications in place of degrees.

AoC Enrolment Survey 2023

AoC Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey 2022

Global engagement in the UK college sector - academic year 2021/22

AoC Student Survey on Additional Hours

AoC FE Provider Strategy and Mandate

AoC College Workforce Survey: Summary of Findings 2020/21 (published November 2022)

AoC Enrolment Survey Autumn 2022

AoC report on the additional 40 hours for 16–18-year-olds

How to fix disadvantage funding - July 2022

Further Education Workforce Shortages in Construction, Planning, and the Built Environment, Report Spring 2022

AoC English and Maths Survey, Report March 2022

College Middle Leadership Survey 2021 - Support, Training and Development, Report March 2022

Survey of safeguarding staff in post-16 providers in England: March 2021 - Report March 2022

AoC College Staff Recruitment Survey December 2021

AoC College Student Attendance Rates 2021 survey - Jan 2022 report

The Current Status of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Further Education Sector in England, Report 2021

AoC College Workforce Survey - 2019/20 academic year, published 2021

AoC Skills Survey 2021

AoC Enrolments Survey Autumn 2021

AoC Catch-up Funding and Remote Education Survey Autumn 2021

AoC Survey: Counting the cost of assessment 2020/21

AoC Spring 2021 Survey: Catch-up funding and remote education

AoC Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey 2020

  • Further information on the report, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter and AoC lead in this area

AoC International Survey Summer 2020

AoC College Workforce Survey - 2018/19 academic year - published 2020

AoC Survey: Autumn 2020 College Enrolments and Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic

AoC Innovation in Further Education Colleges Survey, Summer 2020

Colleges and Covid-19 Survey Summer 2020

AoC Survey on Careers Education and Information, Advice and Guidance, March 2020

AoC Covid-19 and Colleges Survey Spring 2020

AoC English and Maths Survey 2020

AoC International Survey 2019

AoC College Governance Survey 2019 - Summary of Findings, October 2019

The impact of Erasmus+ in UK FE colleges, An AoC report October 2019

AoC College ESOL Survey, July 2019

AoC College Workforce Survey - 2017/18 academic year - published Summer 2019

AoC Survey on Personal and Social Development and Enrichment in Colleges, report May 2019

AoC English and Maths Survey, December 2018

With accompanying blog which highlights key responses and policy asks:

International Activity in Colleges - 2018 Association of Colleges Survey

AoC College IT and Digital Technology Survey, Summer 2018

"Issues facing colleges" - An Association of Colleges (AoC) survey in partnership with Tes, April 2018

AoC Survey on College Higher Education Spring 2018

AoC College Workforce Survey 2017

AoC high need funding in colleges survey report, May 2018

AoC: Ofsted and college attendance rates survey, February 2018

Apprenticeships and college finance, January 2018

International Activity in Colleges - 2017 Association of Colleges Survey