SCOP review to look at widening membership

January 14, 2000

Higher education college heads have launched a sweeping review of their umbrella organisation following a similar exercise last year by vice-chancellors.

The Standing Conference of Principals is considering broadening its membership to include heads of further education colleges, private institutions and conservatoires.

SCOP said the move had been prompted by changes in the sector that have blurred traditional boundaries by placing a greater emphasis on lifelong learning.

But it also follows the loss of members through mergers of some colleges and universities and Welsh college principals transferring to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals following the CVCP's own review.

SCOP's current membership is 37, including two "associate" members from Croydon College and Warrington Collegiate Institute - both FE institutions with a significant amount of higher education provision.

SCOP has been in consultation with the Association of Colleges over the prospect of offering services and associate membership to another 16 "mixed economy" further education colleges.

Patricia Ambrose, SCOP's chief executive, said the focus of SCOP's work would not change - it would continue to concentrate on representing higher education colleges.

But she added: "That does not preclude us from having a developing relationship with some FE colleges that do a significant amount of HE work. We don't want to put the shutters down and say we are not interested in interacting with them."

Ms Ambrose said SCOP had no intention of "poaching" members from the AoC, but would instead offer "supplementary" services.

David Gibson, chief executive of the AoC, said: "If we can share services that are beneficial to both memberships then we would be pleased to look at anything like that. But the AoC will be the only organisation representing FE colleges, whatever their focus or size."

SCOP is also considering offering membership to private colleges that may bid for public status, to conservatoires and to a handful of small institutions.

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