Engineering facilities in further education colleges in England

14 June 2016 Hannah Stanwix

Working with further education (FE) colleges across the country, new research from the Royal Academy of Engineering and Gatsby has identified the equipment needed by a college to deliver broad engineering education at Level 3.

Engineering facilities in further education colleges in England

The expense of installing and maintaining equipment, particularly for curriculum areas such as engineering, is a significant cost factor for FE colleges in providing technical education. There is currently no overarching guidance for funders or college leaders as to the equipment needed to deliver a broad engineering education. This report sets out to address this issue, and it is hoped that it will be a useful guide for heads of engineering departments, college principals, and funding bodies.

The research team conducted a combination of face to face interviews and online surveys, with a total of 52 FE colleges in England. Colleges were asked about the qualifications they offer, the equipment they have in their departments and what they view as the key equipment for a broad engineering education.

The research identifies two distinct types of colleges – College A, which has a good standard of basic engineering equipment but no/very little specialised equipment; College B, which has a wide range of industry-standard equipment plus facilities for specialist training. In order to ensure all engineering learners have access to industry-standard equipment within a reasonable distance to learn, the research concludes by outlining a number of options to consider, including:

  •  A massive and sustained investment in colleges and their facilities nationally.
  • Increased collaboration between colleges and employers, to allow a formalised access agreement to employer-based equipment.
  • Increased collaboration between colleges and universities to make better use of highly equipped university engineering departments.
  • Greater local coherent planning of engineering education.

The full report can be downloaded from 



Further information about the Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have four strategic challenges:
- Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
- Address the engineering skills crisis
- Position engineering at the heart of society
- Lead the profession

Engineering facilities in further education colleges in England