Shaping the future of further education: delivering a stronger, greener, and fairer Wales

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The establishment of the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER) is a landmark piece of legislation. It marks the introduction of one of the most significant reforms to the architecture of our education system since devolution. Wales will be the first country in the UK to pioneer a single overarching regulatory, oversight and coordinating authority for tertiary education.

It comes at a time when the role of further education to the future of our country is more important than ever. Whether it is recovering from the pandemic, shaping the future of work, adapting to an ageing society, or accelerating the transition to Net Zero, colleges are essential to every big challenge we face. In short, there is no path to a stronger, fairer, greener, and bilingual Wales that doesn’t require a high-performing and resilient further education sector.

Public finances are now under significant pressure, making it more important than ever that we are clear about our priorities and we show real ambition to address the long-standing challenges we face.

CTER Statement of Priorities

By the end of 2023, the Welsh Government will have published a Statement of Priorities to help shape the work of the Commission. This paper summarises the priorities the college sector believes must be delivered by both the Welsh Government and the Commission.

1. Put learners at the heart of decision making 

The long-term interest of all learners, including vocational learners and adults, must be put first to drive momentum towards the long-term structural changes that are overdue and needed for the future. At a time of significant pressure on public finances, the Commission and Welsh Government need to show a willingness to make the changes required for the future.

2. Deliver the sustained funding to protect the curriculum and learner support

Recognition is needed of the rising cost pressures on colleges, with a commitment to protect investment in the core curriculum offer, including in apprenticeships and work-based learning, and continued funding for wider learner support services and learner experience.

3. Renew the commitment to vocational education and training

A commitment must be made to the value of vocational education and training, including increasing the vocational offer through the medium of Welsh, and specifically to taking forward the recommendations of the Review of Vocational Qualifications. An infrastructure to support fast and flexible decision making will be key to ensuring that work-based learning provision is fit for purpose and will benefit learners and employers alike.

4. Develop a new, enhanced 14-19 learning and transition pathway for all learners

  • Greater opportunities for learners in Years 10 and 11 to be able to access vocational education in college;
  • A review of the viability of small school sixth forms; and 
  • An assessment of the experiences of those learners with the lowest or fewest qualifications

5. Lifelong learning and progression opportunities for adults

To increase take up of adult and lifelong learning, there must be a coherent and long-term policy commitment, backed by sustained and secure investment. This should be supported by sector collaboration, to develop a long-term and coherent policy for adult education, including allowing colleges autonomy to respond to local labour market needs.  

Further Information

CTER Statement of Priorities 2023

Amy Evans, Policy Officer  

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