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Colleges and polytechnics

Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs)

A White Paper of 1956 painted a dismal picture of the state of technical education. It argued the need to increase the supply of trained manpower at all levels of technological expertise. David Eccles, the Minister of Education, proposed an expenditure of £70 million over eight years. The paper proposed the designation of 25 Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs) in major urban centres, with surrounding 'satellite colleges' as the regional, area and local colleges. These measures would expand technical education through full-time, part-time and sandwich courses.

After 1956 the CATs experienced staffing problems. This was due partly to their relatively low status as LEA institutions, and because lecturers' salaries were linked to those of teachers. In 1961 LEAs agreed with the Ministry of Education that CATs would be funded directly by grants from the government. CATs briefly formed a non-university sector of higher education. Two years later the Robbins Committee recommended their upgrade to university status, after which they became funded through the University Grants Committee.

Polytechnics under Labour

Following Labour's general election victory in 1964, Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education and Science, envisaged a 'binary system' of autonomous universities, and a public sector of technical and other further education colleges. The policy was aimed at meeting manpower requirements of industry through upgrading the status of technical education so that it equalled that of the universities.

A White Paper, 'A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges' was published in 1966, recommending the designation of colleges with the most potential as regional polytechnics to form a nation-wide network for technical education. The polytechnics would be 'large and comprehensive' providers of full-time, part-time and sandwich courses of technical and vocational higher education. The aim was to reduce the number of small colleges providing full-time courses, but those already doing so were allowed to continue.

Industrial training legislation

By the early 1960s, the government became concerned with the state of industrial training. It was apparent that many companies had been unwilling to support day release and sandwich courses as planned in the 1956 White Paper. Training offered by industry was fragmented and inadequate, and in 1962 the Cabinet approved a White Paper proposing the establishment of Industrial Training Boards. The boards were to establish training policies in specific industries, devise standards and syllabuses, and administer tests and award qualifications. These recommendations formed the basis of the Industrial Training Bill 1964. The later Employment and Training Act 1973 went further by establishing the Manpower Services Commission, which was responsible for government employment and training services.



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