Throughout the work of the Commission, we have been clear that the university of the future cannot deliver people, productivity and space in isolation, but must be part of an ecosystem of broader, coherent and integrated education and skills.
An important part of this must be thinking about how colleges and universities work together.
That’s why we’ve been so happy to work with the Civic University Network and Sheffield Hallam University over the past nine months to explore the challenges and opportunities that exist for university-college relationships across the four UK countries. United.
Today (7 February) we are launching our report, Going further and higher: how collaboration between colleges and universities can transform lives and places.
Our starting position is that colleges and universities share common missions – including helping people access education and training throughout their lives, boosting productivity, and helping to support healthy, sustainable communities. and connected.
This means that developing meaningful and balanced relationships should be at the heart of what industry leaders do. It’s not an optional extra, or something that can be based solely on personal relationships that may come and go. But too often, relationships are lacking – lacking in ambition or interest, or worse yet plagued by deep mistrust. This clearly needs to change.
There is broad consensus that this needs attention in all four countries. Our report seeks to share lessons learned from both local partnerships and national reforms, to inspire and inform both policy and practice.
We are clear that building truly integrated and collaborative education and skills systems within each of the four countries is a shared responsibility for everyone across the system.
There are so many things industry leaders can and should do locally. But the report identifies how uneven investment and a lack of clarity about the role universities and colleges play have led to years of unnecessary tension, in different ways and to different extents in the four countries.
We therefore call on policy makers to continue to push this agenda forward, building on the respective reform agendas already in place.
Following extensive consultation and input from education officials and policy makers in the four countries, the report provides a blueprint for greater collaboration between institutions to support individuals, employers and communities.
The recommendations (see below for an overview) apply to varying degrees across the four countries, with many drawing on existing practices and policies.
Recommendations for industry leaders, which focus on building strong local networks:
- Agree on the institutions involved in the network and adopt the local geography and specialties that already exist.
- Develop a coherent education and skills offer for local people, employers and communities around lifelong learning, ensuring that duplication and inefficient competition are reduced.
- Go beyond personal relationships and agree on how the whole institution is involved in the collaboration, with clear roles and shared responsibility for the partnership.
Recommendations to the governments of the four countries to build better education and skills systems:
- Establish an ambitious 10-year strategy to ensure lifelong learning for all and deliver national ambitions.
- Balance investments in education and higher education to ensure that the entire education and skills system is sustainably funded so that colleges and universities can work for the benefit of their populations, employers and local communities.
- Equal maintenance support between loans and grants for HE and FE students, regardless of age, personal circumstances or educational path.
- Tackle the “messy middle” by defining distinct but complementary roles for colleges and universities to avoid a turf war over who provides different types of education and training.
- Create a single funding and regulatory body for the entire post-16 education and skills system in each country to deliver more aligned and complementary regulatory approaches that will ensure smoother learning pathways.
We will build the conversation over the coming weeks and months as we explore together what more we can do to strengthen relationships.
Lewis Cooper, Director, Commission on the College of the Future
This afternoon (February 7), we are organizing a online launch event, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a fantastic line-up of speakers. So sign up to join us if you can.
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