The Challenges of STEM Provision for Further Education Colleges

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This report, published in October 2012, documents the activities and conclusions of a research project undertaken by the 157 Group, supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and in partnership with Association of Colleges (AoC).

The 157 Group is a membership organisation that represents 27 large, regionally influential further education colleges in England. Providing a national voice on strategy and policy for large, mostly urban colleges in England, it aims to promote change for the benefit of its members and the sector as a whole.

The project aimed to develop a better understanding of the challenges further education colleges face in offering STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) provision at level 3 and above. The project focused primarily on the financial challenges, in particular the costs associated with STEM provision, and the potential impacts of changes to FE policy, including funding reductions and the introduction of FE loans, on the offer and uptake of vocational STEM programmes.

The report describes the key findings in terms of:

• the broad challenges facing colleges
• the process of curriculum planning in colleges
• the cost of STEM programmes (compared to non-STEM programmes)
• the changes colleges expect to see in their STEM provision over the next two years.

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