College funding chiefs have promised to cut the red tape crippling the sector by creating a new tier of regional management.
Mark Haysom, the new chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, said the council would appoint nine regional directors, each responsible for the "performance management" of three to five local councils and reporting to the central LSC in Coventry. They are likely to be selected from executive directors.
In his first speech to college principals at the Association of Colleges conference last week, Mr Haysom said the reorganisation was part of his vision for a new LSC that would speed up decision-making and cut red tape.
He dismissed concerns that the proposed regional management would add another layer of bureaucracy to a sector that he said was already "sagging at the knees" with complexity, policies and initiatives.
AoC heads have complained that, despite a bureaucracy-busting task force, colleges are weighed down with more targets and red tape than ever before.
Mr Haysom told the conference: "Since I am absolutely determined not to add another layer of bureaucracy, and since I am equally determined that these regional managers should remain rooted in the real world, they will also run their own local LSC.
"What this move means is that instead of 47 local LSCs supposedly reporting to me, I will now have nine regions reporting to me. And that means we can drive ahead with faster decision-making, with more responsibility and accountability at the front line."
Mr Haysom said he wanted the change because the LSC had become too slow-moving, uneven, inconsistent and "tied down with process".
The new regional structure - expected to be in place by the new year - would allow a "very different" central LSC office to be created, operating with a "lighter touch", he said.
Mr Haysom also hoped the level of government intervention in the sector could be reduced. He said: "There is a degree of management that comes from the Department for Education and Skills and there is a growing awareness that it is not entirely necessary."