City's colleges forge beneficial links with their higher neighbours

September 24, 2004

42 institutions are pooling their considerable resources. Chris Johnston reports

Higher education in London may be big but further education is bigger, boasting more colleges and far more students.

The Association of Colleges London Region represents 53 post-16 institutions, including 36 general further education colleges, 12 sixth-form colleges and five specialist centres.

Together they employ more than 25,000 staff and teach hundreds of thousands of students, 80 per cent of whom are over the age of 19.

Further education colleges play an important role in encouraging progression on to higher education and the London Further and the Higher Education Partners Group was set up to tackle issues that affect both sectors.

The joint initiative between the AOC London Region and London Higher is chaired by John Stone, principal of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, with Deian Hopkin, vice-chancellor of London South Bank University, as vice-chairman.

The group meets regularly with Ken Livingstone, London's mayor, and other bodies such as the London Development Agency.

This week, a conference titled London - the World's Knowledge Capital, was held at City Hall. The further and higher education partners group is also working on a report demonstrating the extent of links between further and higher education.

The AOC London Region is based at London University's Senate House headquarters, along with London Higher. This helps relationships between officials and encourages joint bids for research projects and other funding.

Mr Stone said: "There are many partnerships in London between colleges and universities, both individually and in groups, and they have shown themselves to be very interested in working with further education."

His college has been an associate college of Westminster University for a decade. That relationship had proved useful for his institution, Mr Stone said, improving its governance and making the introduction of foundation degrees easier.

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