I’m writing to let you know about our next seminar in our series on the social role of colleges. It will be zoom webinar. Our speaker is Professor Gareth Parry from the University of Sheffield, who will be speaking on the ‘Roles and Relations of Further Education Colleges in England. It will be held on Thursday November 10th at 10am Toronto time (3pm UK time). We will be recording it, so if you register but can’t come, we’ll send you the link to the recording a little later.
Here is the link about the seminar series overall, and Gareth’s seminar in particular: https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/cihe/cihe-speaker-series/.
As publicly funded multipurpose post-school institutions serving local and regional populations, further education colleges in England have important, if under-recognised, educational, social and economic roles. Colleges sit between secondary schools, universities and training providers.
They provide academic, vocational, general and higher education as well as workforce training. Qualifications span the basic, intermediate and higher levels. Students are diverse in age and background. They include a disproportionate share of disadvantaged and second chance students. Further education colleges do not enjoy the status generally accorded to schools and universities.
In part, this is a legacy of their history as technical colleges predominantly concerned with vocational education for industrial workers and employers. A shift to more diverse missions, together with their independence from local government, brought colleges into competition with better known institutions and more prestigious establishments, but also with other colleges. Issues of organisational identity, funding and status are acute, as highlighted by a wave of mergers and closures. Monitoring of colleges is against a narrow range of performance measures. Studies of the character and wider benefits of college learning are few.