New Independent Commission on the College of the Future Launched

A new independent commission has been launched today to set out a new vision for colleges in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Independent Commission on the College of the Future will be chaired by Sir Ian Diamond – who notably led a review which saw the overhaul of Welsh higher education funding and the introduction of maintenance grants to cover costs for full-time and part-time students.

The commission also features prominent names from industry, education, the media and the trade union movement, as well as national and international experts from across the four nations of the UK.

Purpose of the Commission

From demographic change, to technological revolution, from the changing demands of the labour market, to evolving attitudes and expectations of individuals – there are seismic shifts happening across the UK.

If we are to meet these challenges, then colleges have a critical role to play. That is why the commission will be working with partners to answer the question – what does the college of the future look like?

The Independent Commission on the College of the Future is supported by key organisations from across the FE and skills sector, including the Association of Colleges, Colleges Scotland, Colleges Wales, the colleges in Northern Ireland, City & Guilds, the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), Jisc, NCFE, NOCN and Pearson.

The Commission will meet five times throughout the year and will be supported by an expert panel who will also feed into the process. The Commission will hold a range of roundtable and workshop events with a broad range of stakeholders across the UK throughout the year and will hold a number of public events. The Commission will be producing a final report with clear recommendations to be published in Spring 2020.

Sir Ian Diamond, chair of the Independent Commission and Chair of Edinburgh College said: “Colleges are a central part of our education systems right across the UK. But with so many critical challenges facing us, nationally and internationally – from changes in technology, aspirations, jobs and climate, to name just a few – colleges must take an ever more central place in public policy, as they are critically important for people and communities.

“The Independent Commission brings together a formidable team of experts and leaders to ask the fundamental questions about the role and place of colleges across all four corners of the UK. We will be putting forward clear recommendations, as we seek to ensure that colleges are able to play the critical role that they must – so that people have the right opportunities to get on in life, that no community is left behind, and that governments across the UK are able to meet the challenges of the future.”

David Jones OBE DL, Chief Executive, Coleg Cambria said: "I'm delighted to be part of the Commission. Building on so much that's being done at present, colleges can really be the solution to addressing so many of the skills and broader challenges about to be faced across the UK. The 'can do' sector needs to grasp this opportunity". 

Iestyn Davies, Chief Executive, CollegesWales said: “Despite the very different policy and political environments across the four nations of the UK, there are a number of key challenges and changes that we share – and colleges must be at the heart of our collectively meeting these challenges. That’s why it is great to see such an impressive range of experts and organisations coming together to share best practice and develop a positive vision for colleges across the four nations.” 


The Commission is supported by an expert panel, which is chaired by Amanda Melton, Principal and Chief Executive, Nelson and Colne College, together with Audrey Cumberford, Principal and Chief Executive, Edinburgh College; Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Foundation; Paul Feldman, Chief Executive, Jisc; Kathleen Henehan, Research and Policy Analyst, Resolution Foundation; David Jones OBE DL, Chief Executive at Coleg Cambria; Marie-Thérèse McGivern, Principal and Chief Executive at Belfast Metropolitan College; and Anja Meierkord, Labour Market Economist, OECD (Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs).


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