Establishment of corporations
Further education corporations are established under sections 15 and 16 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (FHEA 1992).
Section 15 provides for the incorporation of a list of institutions providing further education that were maintained by local authorities. It is now largely of historical note as the institutions are funded directly by the Welsh Ministers.
Section 16 allows the Welsh Ministers to make an order to establish a body corporate for the purposes of establishing and conducting an educational institution in Wales or to conduct an existing educational institution in Wales. The Welsh Ministers may not make such an order in relation to an existing educational institution without the consent of the governing body of that institution.
Section 16 also permits the Welsh Ministers to make an order to establish a body corporate for the purpose of conducting an institution maintained by a local authority that is principally concerned with the provision of full-time education suitable to the requirements of persons aged 16 to 18.
A higher education corporation in Wales can, by order of the Welsh Ministers, be transferred to the further education sector and so become a further education corporation. Section 47 of FHEA 1992 makes provision for this.
Powers of further education corporations
Sections 18 and 19 of FHEA 1992 set out the powers of further education corporations.
The principal powers of further education corporations as listed in section 18(1) are to:
- provide further and higher education
- supply goods or services in connection with their provision of education.
Further education corporations also have limited powers under section 18 to provide and participate in secondary education after consultation with appropriate local authorities.
Section 19 lists the supplementary powers of further education corporations, which include:
- a power to do anything that appears to the further education corporation to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of or in connection with the exercise of any of its principal powers,
- a power to conduct an educational institution for the purpose of carrying on activities undertaken in the exercise of its powers to provide further and higher education and in particular to assume conduct of the institution,
- a power to provide facilities appearing to be necessary or desirable for the purposes of or in connection with carrying on any activities undertaken in the exercise of its principal powers.
These general powers enable further education corporations to charge for the provision of education and training. Further education corporations may also be required to charge fees or recover costs under conditions imposed on their funding from the Welsh Ministers
Sections 20 to 22 of, and Schedule 4 to, FHEA 1992 set out provisions relating to the governance of further education corporations.
Section 20(1) provides that every further education corporation must have an instrument providing for the constitution of the corporation (the instrument of government) and an instrument in accordance with which the corporation and the institution are to be conducted (the articles of government).
In accordance with section 21, the initial instrument and articles of government of a further education corporation in Wales will be as prescribed in regulations specific to the institution, made by the Welsh Ministers (see for example the Coleg Cambria Further Education Corporation (Government) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/375 ).
A further education corporation can modify or replace its instrument and articles of government under section 22. Subsequent instruments and articles of government must comply with the requirements set out in Schedule 4 to FHEA 1992 but otherwise can contain such provision as may be necessary or desirable.
Section 22A of FHEA 1992 provides that further education corporations are exempt charities. In accordance with section 25 of the Charities Act 2011 and the Charities Act 2011 (Principal Regulators of Exempt Charities) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1764), the Welsh Ministers are the principal regulator for further education corporations in Wales and St David’s Catholic College (Saint David's Catholic College is designated under section 28 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The governing body of the College was incorporated and exempt charity status was conferred using powers contained in section 143(5) of the Learning and Skills Act 2000).
Sections 27 to 27B of FHEA 1992 set out the procedure by which a further education corporation can be dissolved.
Many of the provisions above were introduced in relation to Wales by the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Act 2014, which provided for further education corporations in Wales to have greater autonomy. In particular, that Act made amendments to FHEA 1992 to allow a further education corporation in Wales to modify or replace its instrument and articles of government and to dissolve itself.