Skip to main content

The Scottish College of the Future

A nations-specific 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.

As the Commission reaches its concluding stages, its UK-wide final report set out 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.

Now, the Commission has published the second of its nations-specific final reports. This report is for the Scottish College of the Future.

Download Scotland report Download Scotland report - print friendly version

Currently, the post-16 education and skills system in Scotland is leading the way in driving a collaborative, connected and agile tertiary (post-16) system. This report report calls for this bold reform agenda to move further, faster, to meet the rapidly changing and complex skills needs of the future.

The Scottish College of the Future sets out recommendations that, if implemented by the Scottish Government, funding bodies and colleges, will empower the sector to deliver more strategically on skills and innovation support for new jobs, good jobs and green jobs. It would also transform the life chances for learners of all ages and levels.

Whilst there is the important prospect of a much-needed reform agenda to renew and reaffirm the role of colleges in Scotland, we are also clear that this is not just a report for government. This report calls on everyone across the system to take collective ownership of the change agenda, living out the principles that this report describes.


This report makes a number of central recommendations, which reaffirm and build on themes set out in the UK-wide final report.


1. Ensuring that Scotland’s post-16 education is genuinely there for everyone, whatever their age, ability or circumstance.

Ideas include ensuring that institutions across the system are funded fairly, and empowering anyone to learn by offering access to the grants and loans they need whatever route they take, with flexibility to have support across FE and HE.

2. Increase the impact of the post-16 education and skills system by driving further integration.

Proposals include aligning and integrating the roles and responsibilities of Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) relating to skills alignment to better achieve delivery of skills services, defining the respective roles, remit and provision of colleges and universities to lessen competition at the higher technical level.


3. Unlock the potential of colleges to drive innovation by deepening links with employers.

Suggestions include establishing the unique role of colleges in business support and innovation as a core part of their remit, creating a national network of specialist “hubs” to address critical skills shortages, especially in relation to higher level technical skills (for example in STEM and digital), and creating a single FE and HE Scottish Government innovation fund.


While there are common challenges and opportunities for colleges across the four nations, the Commission’s 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 Northern Ireland.

Get involved in the conversation using @CollegeComm / #CollegeoftheFuture or share you thoughts with us via email by contacting us below.

Contact Us