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Taking action in higher education

Report finds university technical colleges are closing, failing and under capacity

30 October 2019 | last updated: 1 November 2019

Controversial state-funded university technical colleges (UTCs) have been forced to close, are running at less than half capacity and are underperforming when compared to schools, according to a damning report from the National Audit Office.

UCU said the millions of pounds pumped into UTCs would have been better spent on improving further education, which has suffered huge funding cuts in recent years.

The NAO found:

  • the government has spent £792m on UTCs since 2010
  • £9m of that was spent on covering UTCs' deficit, and a further £9m on the cost of closing UTCs down
  • 10 out of 58 UTCs (17%) have been closed
  • hust half (52%) of UTCs are rated good or outstanding, compared to three-quarters (76%) of schools
  • the Education and Skills Funding Agency has 'significant concerns' about the finances of a quarter of the remaining UTCs (13 out of 48).

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'In too many cases, university technical colleges have proved to be expensive failures that took funds away from the further education sector at a time when it most needed support.

'If the government really wants to improve the standing of technical education, it must ensure that the further education sector as a whole is well-supported to deliver it. That means building capacity across the board because, without proper investment, this perennial conversation about the problems facing technical education is doomed to repeat itself.'

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