We provide support and advice to colleges through our member services. These include:
- Advice and information on all aspects of policy, guidance on regulation, share good practice and discuss any issues in relation to any higher education matters in colleges.
- A fortnightly briefing, containing the latest news and analysis on related issues.
- We run the College Higher Education Policy Group, which brings together principals, vice principals, Deans/Directors of HE from colleges. The aim of the group is to represent the interests of colleges with HE provision and inform AoC policy, services and lobbying activity.
- Servicing regional college HE meetings across the country. The aim of these groups is to achieve a co-ordinated approach to the strategic development of high quality college HE in the region; providing a collective voice for members in their relationships with strategic and funding bodies, employers and students. At these meetings, we also gather feedback from member colleges about the impact of initiatives on their colleges and students.
AoC Services offers additional products and services to help your college succeed in today’s challenging environment. These include:
- Conferences and events throughout the year where high level speakers address key issues and debate about skills policy and its implementation.
- Training programmes and workshops providing bespoke extra support when it’s needed.
- Recruitment services, including short-term interim management, executive search and assessment centre design and delivery. Plus, there is AoC Jobs - the specialist job board for the further education sector.
- Consultancy services, which provides practical organisational solutions and specialist support.
Overview of college HE information
Nearly 137,000 students study HE in FE. Colleges are key providers of level 4/5 education in England and a substantial proportion of college HE students study on a part time basis.
Office for Students (OfS) is the independent regulator of higher education in England. Over 170 FE colleges are registered with the OfS, and some others teach HE but are not registered with the OfS. All providers registered with the OfS are required to meet OfS's ongoing conditions of registration.
We advise our members on the regulation of HE in England and also work with our sister HE organisations, Universities UK and Guild HE on regulation and related issues. If you are experiencing regulatory issues or are interested in how HE in England is regulated, please contact Arti Saraswat.
Under the new regulatory arrangements, Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has become the Designated Quality Body for Higher Education in England. AoC has a representative on the QAA Board agreed with the UK Council of Colleges.
We regularly consult with QAA on all issues related to the quality assurance of HE and frequently organise joint seminars and/or conferences on topics of mutual interest. AoC can also provide an advice service if colleges are experiencing problems in this area of their work.
Colleges receive their HE funding through three main sources: Student Loan Company (SLC) tuition fee loans, OfS grants, and from employers or individuals. A large number of colleges also receive funds through franchise agreements with universities. Arti Saraswat works closely with Julian Gravatt, AoC’s Deputy Chief Executive, on HE funding issues.
Data on College HE is collected via the Individualised Learner Record (ILR). HESA is the Designated Data Body for HE in England and colleges now have a direct relationship with HESA for Graduate Outcomes survey and Unistats.
The vast majority of students who apply and enrol on English HE courses apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applicants can also apply directly to institutions and around 50% of college applicants apply in this way.
AoC has a representative on the UCAS Board and its wider advisory council. There is also a College HE Advisory Group organised by UCAS. Most colleges provide a local HE service and 70% of college students live within 25 miles of their college campus.
Access and Widening Participation
Colleges enrol a significant proportion of students from less well-off backgrounds - around 12% more than universities, although this figure is much higher in some colleges. A reason for this is due to colleges offering bespoke part-time higher education courses, often to meet the needs of local or regional employers. To meet OfS's commitment to increase access and widen participation to HE, colleges are required to complete a widening participation strategic statement or have an approved Access and Participation plan indicating how they intend to recruit, retain and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.