New independent commission on the college of the future launched

Edinburgh College’s Chair of Board of Management and its Principal will play key roles as part of 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 – the Chair of the Board of Management at the College. Previously, Sir Ian 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.

Principal Audrey Cumberford also takes on a role in the commission panel. Audrey will draw on her vast experience in higher and further education as well as her insight from working as part of the member of the Scottish Government’s Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board to support the commission achieve its goal.

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.

Full Commissioner team

Name Organisation
Sir Ian Diamond – chair Chair,
Edinburgh College Management Board
Peter Cheese Chief Executive, CIPD
Audrey Cumberford MBE
Principal and Chief Executive,
Edinburgh College
Dr Stephen Farry Former Minister for Employment and
Learning, Northern Ireland
Matthew Fell Chief UK Policy Director, CBI
Lesley Giles Director, Work Foundation
Professor Ellen Hazelkorn BH Associates
Rob Humphreys CBE
Council member, Higher Education
Funding Council for Wales
David Jones OBE DL Chief Executive, Coleg Cambria
Professor Ewart Keep Director, SKOPE, Oxford University
Shakira Martin President, NUS
Marie-ThérèseMcGivern Principal and Chief Executive,
Belfast Metropolitan College
Steph McGovern BBC Broadcaster
Amanda Melton Principal and Chief Executive, Nelson and
Colne College
Paul Nowak Deputy General Secretary, TUC
Nora Senior CBE Chair, Weber Shandwick, and Chair of
Scottish Government’s
Enterprise and Skills Board

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.”

Audrey Cumberford MBE, Principal and Chief Executive Edinburgh College said:

“The foundations for establishing the Commission were firmly grounded in a collective pride across our sector in the important and pivotal role that colleges play in local communities and regions across the UK. We also share an ambition to be bold and innovative, shaping a sector that is truly fit for the future – and the challenges and opportunities that we will undoubtedly face.  The Commission has an exciting opportunity to create and articulate a powerful vision for the ‘college of the future’.”

Click here for more information on the commission.