Augar review open letter

Below is an open letter regarding the Augar review. Together with many other colleges across the UK we are working to ensure funding for further education is a priority.

To : The Right Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Right Hon Damien Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education

An Open Letter on the Implementation of the Augar Review

The recently published Independent Review of Post 18 Education and Funding, led by Dr Philip Augar, has much more to offer than another round of debates about higher education tuition fees.  It is the first review since the 1960s that considers higher and further education together, as parts of a single system.  It concludes that there is a pressing need for this system to be more balanced, and that the improved status, stability and sustainability of further education colleges is in the national interest and should become a national policy priority.  Our letter, is signed and supported by 197 colleges nationwide.  This is an unprecedented level of support, which includes every single general further education college in England and a number of sixth form colleges. It calls upon our political leaders to implement the main recommendations of the Augar Review.

Dear Chancellor and Minister

As college leaders, we are pleased that the Augar Review understands the importance of a more coherent tertiary system.  It makes many positive recommendations that will support the economy by upskilling and reskilling the adult population of England, through investment in more flexible higher, technical and professional education and training, answering calls from business and in direct response to the pending challenges of technological change and Brexit.

The report and the recommendations are based on sound analysis of the current state of further and higher education in England. It also sets out the compelling need for a fairer society which works for everyone, based on a strong economy in which businesses can be even more productive. It recognises the role that further education colleges must have in aligning the skills system with the needs of the economy, and in delivering high quality alternatives to traditional three-year residential bachelor’s degrees as well as enabling more adults to progress to intermediate skill levels.  It understands that employers and communities need more high quality technical and professional education and training, industry standard facilities, expert staff and the unique curriculum that colleges already provide.  It sees colleges as the key vehicle for the flexible, local delivery of national strategies, supporting industrial policy, productivity, skills development and genuine social equity.  It clearly acknowledges that all this requires real investment.

In many respects the Augar Review represents a wider emerging consensus across England. We are sure that you will agree with us and other key stakeholders that further education colleges have been neglected, and that there is now a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential. What we now need are decisions and commitments:  with your political leadership, support and resolve, colleges will be able to build on what they already do to reach more employers and more adults and make the differences our economy and society need.

Our concern is that, having waited so long, the key weakness of the Augar Review might prove to be its timing.  It has emerged at a moment when its insights and proposals might easily be lost.  That is why we are urging you to make the investment in upskilling and reskilling the whole of the adult population in England a priority in your spending decisions this autumn, and to implement the Augar recommendations promptly.

We stand ready, individually and collectively to deliver; eager to meet the challenges and excited at the prospect of helping to achieve a fairer society and successful future for our nation.