Hill, Ron, Downs, Yvonne and Drake, Julie E. (2012) Getting Ready for New Governance Freedoms: A Survey of Further Education College Governance 2012. Research Report. University of Huddersfield.

Further education corporations were formed by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and came into being as exempt charities on 1 April 1993. From 1 April 2012 the enactment of the Education Act 2011 provided the governing bodies of further education corporations with a range of structural and procedural choices beyond the prescribed rules and regulations that have been in force for the period 1993-2012.

The purpose of this study was to gain an appreciation of the views of clerks to the corporation in anticipation of these new freedoms and to gauge very early responses to them. It aimed to identify potential areas where additional support in terms of training, development and consultancy may be required, for example to make sense of the new freedoms and in understanding the possible implications of any changes made. To this end an e-questionnaire was sent for completion by clerks to the corporation of 332 colleges in England and Wales. The survey was undertaken shortly before the changes came into force and at a time when some important governance material (such as the Financial Memorandum and Audit Code of Practice) had yet to be revised for the new governance operating context. 119 responses were received.

This report presents a descriptive overview of those responses. It does not seek to make interpretive judgements, although inferences will be drawn where the data strongly supports it. There are contradictions and inconsistencies in some of the responses which may reflect the fact that only 8 Colleges consider themselves (as perceived by their clerk) ‘well prepared’ for the new governance freedoms. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that assistance in preparation for governance in the context of the new freedoms may be required.

Responses indicate most governing bodies will not rush into making changes, although 44 colleges stated that they would wish to take advantage of the new freedoms to make changes to the Instrument and Articles of Government in the next 12 months.

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