Mind the gap: the neoliberal assault on further, adult and vocational education

Autumn 2018

Further, adult and vocational education has always been marginalised, reflecting the divide between academic and vocational education, and the low esteem attached to the latter. This meant that in the 1990s it was possible to carry out neoliberal policies in the further education sector that would have been politically inconceivable in schools. Following the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act, colleges were ‘incorporated’ - taken away from local government control and set up as competing businesses in a quasi-market. The focus of colleges was turned away from the needs of local communities. Any progressive alternative to this system will depend on overcoming the old division between academic and vocational education and instituting comprehensive provision for 16-19-year-olds. Meanwhile further education colleges and adult provision should be fundamentally reorganised, and returned to some form of local or regional government ownership and control.