Last month I joined a group of colleagues from other UK HE and FE institutions (leavened with a smattering of folk from other parts of the world) to find out how the US system is coping with globalisation. We visited Chicago, Illinois and Michigan and what an eye opener of a trip it was.

There we were in the host city of the University of Chicago - alma mater of the Chicago school of neo-liberal free market economics. This was the birthplace of the ideas that took the world by storm during the 1970s and 1980s. This is where the notion that competition, the tenets of Say's law, the freeing of markets from the dead hand of state bureaucracy had been organised into an intellectually coherent creed. This is the school of economics whose ideas have shaped successive UK administrations from Margaret Thatcher's through to today's coalition.

So I was fully expecting to see an FE and HE system built on competition alone. But what I found in Chicago, particularly among the Community Colleges, was the opposite of that expectation. Sure, the institutions are competing for students. Each Community College has a range of business advisory bodies attached to areas of the curriculum. And there is also a rich cornucopia of different types of educational institution delivering a wide range of courses to suit all tastes from publicly funded bodies to private universities. However the sheer degree of collaboration between institutions at the city and state level was what took my breath away.

This collaboration was all about putting the students' and employers' needs first. Chicago has a long established organising authority City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) that is responsible for coordinating curriculum innovation and development in order to meet the needs of the city's high growth industries. Their new initiative described as Reinvention has been about driving out data and analysis on where the jobs are likely to come from over the next ten years and then determining which College in the group will develop which specialism to serve that demand. The Chicago colleges have helped fund this operation themselves but it has also had a tranche of money and support from the City and state of Illinois and the active partnership of relevant businesses both large and small.

This is a form of partnership and planning the UK can only dream of. The US is clear that to serve the demand side properly then partnership, institutional collaboration and smart clustering are all parts of the necessary infrastructure. It is not enough just to simply create new institutions. What is required is organisation of the supply side so that it really becomes an interested partner for the demand side in a way the demand side can easily understand.
Competition is for students. Getting the right student onto the right course for them is the over-riding principle as it should be, but isn't, here. So in Chicago each of the seven community colleges in the city is developing a specialism to match the six or seven sectors offering the most growth over the next ten years. Sectors such as logistics or high tech manufacturing or the creative industries have a clear set of options about where to go to find the right courses and skilled people.

As importantly people too can find the right course for them at the right institution. This hasn't been an uncontroversial reform. Community Colleges, like FE Colleges, are seen as predominantly local institutions serving local needs. This form of specialisation will mean more people needing to travel across the city to attend the right college for their field of study. However Chicago believe this change will help drive higher graduation rates; better skills delivery to employers and higher overall growth.

Much of this we can emulate in the UK by using our new Local Enterprise Partnerships to create that enabling framework. But will the supply side play ball? Will all those independent bodies at secondary school level want to integrate and cede some autonomy over what they offer in order to develop the relevant pathways for students through secondary school on to College and University? Or could the manic innovation in institutional form mask a fundamental failure in overall design? Only time will tell.

Nick Isles is deputy principal of Milton Keynes College – follow him on Twitter at @dpmkcollege

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page