As we embrace the new year, Stephanie Mason, head of further education at RSM predicts some of the key themes for the sector in 2019: 

Brexit could have a profound impact on the education sector - impacting EU students enrolment; research funding; knowledge exchange; and the financial stability and contribution of the sector. 

HE leaders wrote to the Government in January 2019 to raise these concerns and the letter was signed by universities across the spectrum, the Russell Group, Million Plus and University Alliance, as well as by Universities UK and Guild HE.

As we wait for more clarity, educational providers need to start planning ahead for potential scenarios, including how Brexit will impact regulation and compliance; financial planning and forecasting; people and talent management; and organisational management.

An Apprenticeship opportunity

Following the introduction of apprenticeship reforms and the apprenticeship levy, the apprenticeship training landscape is increasingly complex with provision under both the levy and non-levy, and a system which the government is continually reviewing.

The Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has been re-opened for applications by new providers; and existing providers will also be required to re-apply, in phases.

We have already seen turmoil in the independent training provider market. But, despite the initial challenges, could apprenticeships provide a key area of growth and revenue stream for further and higher education organisations as more employers seek to utilise the levy in 2019?

An insolvency first

In further education, a formal insolvency regime will come into force on 31 January 2019, with a special objective to protect existing students at an insolvent institution.

When it becomes operational from April, how will it work alongside intervention? With the mounting pressure on struggling colleges, will we see our first insolvency case in the sector in 2019?

Stephanie Mason, Head of Further Education and Skills, RSM

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