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The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

What do we want and need from our colleges from 2030 onwards, and how do we get there? These were the simple, yet fundamental questions the Commission set out to answer when it began work in Spring 2019.

Published in October 2020, this report is a rallying cry for radical and decisive action - enabling colleges to be part of a more joined-up, all-age education and skills system, which enables individuals ultimately to have greater agency and opportunities across their lifetimes.

This report sets out the UK-wide recommendations. Nation-specific reports are also available.


The UK-wide report sets out eleven recommendations for reform and renewal of the college systems. All are important, but three key recommendations must be priorities:


1. Upskilling people across the UK by making it possible for everyone to learn throughout their lives, whatever route they choose to take – with a statutory right to lifelong learning. This must be supported by (1) equity across student finance and maintenance support for further and higher education to ensure everyone can live well whilst gaining the skills they need, and (2) a statutory entitlement in each nation to all English-NI-Welsh Level 3/ Scottish Level 6 qualifications, unlocking the opportunity for more people to progress to gaining more advanced levels of vocational education and thus the skills needed for the economy of the future.

    2. Backing business, driving innovation and addressing skills gaps by establishing a unique service for employers at their local colleges for training and upskilling future and current employees and innovation support. The development of new ways for employers to make the education and skills system work for their needs should include sector specialist “employer hubs”.

    Driving innovation

    3. Creating an impactful post-16 education and skills system that addresses unproductive competition between institutions so that everyone can access high-quality education and learning that works for them. Each nation must affirm a 10-year strategy that will deliver on national priorities for the economy and society and clearly sets out the transformational role that colleges play for people, businesses, and communities.



    Taking this forward will look different in each of the four nations. While there are common challenges and opportunities for colleges across the four nations, the recommendations for each nation are distinct and particular to the respective policy and political contexts. Reports have now been published for England, Scotland and Wales, and the report for Northern Ireland will be published in Spring 2021.

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