Free training for those under the age of 25 and new degree awarding powers for further education colleges were among the government plans announced in the Queen’s Speech this week.
Currently universities validate and award the qualifications in the two-year vocational foundation degree courses taken in FE colleges.
The proposed Further Education and Training Bill would also look to give the Learning and Skills Council greater powers to remove college principals judged not to be doing a good job.
In her speech at the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen said the bill would "reform the further education system so it can better equip people with the skills that they and the economy need".
The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) welcomed the proposals for FE Colleges.
Alan Tuckett, Director of NIACE, said: “It’s the first sensible, tangible step towards an articulated tertiary system of education for the UK which is exactly what adults need.”
He added: “The next steps we’re now looking for are a coherent credit framework which underpins qualifications and an accelerated foundation learning tier with proper respect for the complexity of routes that adults take in achieving their goals.”
The bill would apply mainly to England, but give the Welsh Assembly Government power to make similar reforms in Wales.