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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 12:00 GMT
Colleges: how others do it
During his review of England's further education system, Sir Andrew visited a number of other countries to see what lessons might be learned.

His report summarises their



A key feature of the US community college system is the strong emphasis on self regulation and the lack of top down control.

There is no formal inspection process, national funding regime or national qualifications system.

There are many university features in the community college system and links with universities provide clear pathways and progression routes for learners.

Another benefit is a positive reputation and high level of esteem, embodied in a powerful national association.

The community is the driver: colleges' key focus is on skills and economic development.


Learner feedback is used extensively in the quality assurance process.

As part of the legal requirement for self-evaluation, colleges are required to conduct annual learner satisfaction surveys and post the results alongside retention and achievement data on their website.

Employer involvement is integral to vocational qualification design.

All colleges have a common administration/management information system and all citizens have a unique identification number so their educational participation, achievement and progression can be tracked.

This enables learners to move flexibly around the system and supports the personalised learning approach.

There is a much simpler management and accountability system than in England.


All vocational qualifications are competency based and contained in industry specific training packages.

There is a much simpler accreditation and accountability system.

Since the 1990s, 100 colleges have been merged into 10 institutes of technical and further education.

Under a user choice system for apprentices and trainees, funding flows to the training provider chosen by the employer and theoretically the employee.


Through the Centres of Expertise, there appears to be more direct employer involvement in determining the content and assessment of vocational qualifications.

There is regional provision of backroom services, including procurement, management information and planning, providing considerable economies of scale.

There is a very flexible qualifications system which focuses more specifically on skills and types of employment.

Providers 'pick and mix' from the vocational qualification syllabuses.

Inspection is more frequent than in England - once every three years - but the system allows for greater autonomy at institute level.


A recent inquiry called for clarity in the mission of post-compulsory education institutions.

It said the college mandate should be reaffirmed to focus on occupational education and labour market needs.

The Foster Report notes: "There are many similarities between the recommendations in the Ontario Review and the conclusions of this review of the English FE college system."

See inside one successful college

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