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Managing colleges’ financial sustainability

There are around 250 further education colleges and sixth-form colleges in England. Between them, they educate and train over 2 million learners, in a wide range of academic and vocational subjects. Colleges form an important part of the local and national education infrastructure. They are autonomous bodies, free to make their own educational and financial decisions.

In recent years, colleges have faced a variety of challenges that have affected their financial health. Since our July 2015 report on Overseeing financial sustainability in the further education sector, the Department for Education has managed a programme of structural change which has seen a substantial reduction in the number of colleges. It has also made changes to its oversight and intervention arrangements, including introducing an insolvency regime for the sector.

This study will examine whether: the financial position of the sector has improved since we reported on the topic in 2015; oversight and intervention arrangements are effective; and the Department for Education has a strategy for the long-term sustainability of the sector.

If you would like to provide evidence for our study, please email the study team at Colleges.Study@nao.org.uk. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly.

If you would like to contact us about anything else, please use our contact form.