Although the Lords’ amendments were similarly swilled away in the wash-up, the Technical and Further Education Act 2017 had a far less rocky ride into law than the Higher Education and Research Act, which also received Royal Assent on 27 April.
The TFEA was a child of the post-16 skills plan of 2016. Among the plan’s recommendations was that the government should undertake: “further work to examine how to ensure clear progression routes develop from levels 4 and 5 to degree apprenticeships and other higher education at levels 6 and 7. This work should be carried out in the context of existing and proposed structures and funding rules for higher education provision in England.”
Not much detailed attention seems to have been paid to the overlap between the two, with reference to the provision of courses at these “higher education” levels and the consequences of the changes to “structures and funding rules” that the Higher Education and Research Act will bring about.
The reader of the new TFEA legislation might be forgiven for thinking that the main idea is to close down further education colleges as tidily as possible. Much more detailed legislative provision is now available for that than for disposing of the failing higher education providers envisaged under the new Higher Education Act.
Could we have some joined-up thinking soon on all this, please?
G. R. Evans