Who are we?

The Association of Colleges (AoC) is the national voice for colleges In England and exists to promote and support their interests. Everything AoC does is aimed at helping colleges deliver their purpose and to make an impact. AoC believes that every community should be supported by a strong and successful college, which develops students, delivers relevant skills, and supports stronger communities, social justice, employers and the economy. Colleges are at the heart of their communities offering world-class education and training which:

  • Transforms lives and communities;
  • Equips students of all ages and abilities with the knowledge and skills to succeed and achieve their ambitions;
  • Provides employers with the highly-skilled and productive workforces they need;
  • Sustains strong local economies and vibrant, tolerant communities.

Circa 200 colleges in England offer HVET – meeting the demands of local employers and an HE access service for students who are unable to travel to a large campus-based university. Higher and degree apprenticeships are an integral part of that offer.

Why we are participating in the project

Apprenticeship Policy is a key policy and business area for colleges in England. Since the late 1990s successive governments have attempted to revive and increase apprenticeship numbers with limited success. In 2015 the new Conservative government committed to developing a revitalised apprenticeship system based on an apprenticeship or training levy on medium and large organisations, employer-led standards development with a target of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020. [For comparison there were 900,000 funded apprentices and 1.86 million students in England’s HE system in 2015]

AoC are participating in this project as we believe its potential outcomes and outputs could influence English apprenticeship/VET policy and contribute to creating a more effective and efficient apprenticeship system with considerable input from the college sector.

We have a particular interest in internal and external quality assurance, especially relating to the work-based learning elements of apprenticeship programmes.

Our role in the project

AoC will be co-leading on O1: A1-A5 – Design of a Work based learning conceptual framework, identification of types of apprenticeships, analysis of apprenticeships, HVET provider prevalence study and the final 01 revision and publication report.

And will be a partner in all other activities: collection of case studies on work-placement quality management, consultation amongst QA Manager and in-company Trainers; panels of 10 apprenticeships-managers at HVET/PHEIs Multiplier Events; application of peer learning approaches to manual development, revision and publication and organising interviews with recognition, quality and transparency experts.

Our Team

Nick Davy

Nick Davy

HE Projects Consultant

Nick has worked in the FE and HE sectors for over thirty years, and has held FE posts at South Tyneside College, Somerset College of Arts and Technology and Westminster Kingsway College. He has also worked for the University of Plymouth in its Partnership Faculty and had a widening participation role at London South Bank. He has a publication record related to College HE, specifically progression from FE to HE, and HE in FE practitioners’ staff development and scholarly activity needs. His present role at AoC involves co-leading the AoC/HEFCE Scholarship Project and as a partner in the Erasmus + Beehives project.

Arti Saraswat

Arti Saraswat

HE Policy Manager

Arti is the Senior Policy Manager for Higher Education at the Association of Colleges. She has previously held research positions at the London South Bank University, University of West London, University of Southampton and University of East London. She has done extensive research on College Higher Education, focusing on organisational cultures and identities, employer engagement and student experience, and trends in sub-Bachelor HE. As a Senior Research Fellow at the University of East London, she led on a significant project funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Association of Colleges (AoC) on part time College HE. She now leads on the College HE agenda at the Association of Colleges and has an in-depth knowledge of the College HE sector and the policy that surrounds it.