Contextualising Further Education Governance In Northern Ireland: History, Policy And Practice



Husband G & Ireland A (2022) Contextualising Further Education Governance In Northern Ireland: History, Policy And Practice. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 27 (3), pp. 351-372.

This paper examines how governance in the further education (FE) sector in Northern Ireland (NI) has been shaped by policy frameworks implemented at local, regional, national and UK levels. Despite the unique ways in which FE policy has developed alongside the other devolved nations, very little research has considered the NI context and its complexity. In this paper we first examine the history of FE provision in NI, and the development of FE in NI in relation to the rest of the United Kingdom (UK). Following this, we examine the impact of recent FE policy on governance structures and governing practices across the six regionalised colleges operating in NI today by presenting some insights gained from ethnographic observations of governing boards in action and interviews with key policy actors. Our analysis of the empirical data reveal key challenges facing FE governing bodies in NI in relation to financial and budgetary concerns, the multiple relationships between colleges and the various government departments, and the uncertainty presented by the suspension and subsequent reinstatement of Stormont and the EU Exit (Brexit). We conclude by offering reflection on these analyses in relation to FE governance in NI going forward.

Governance; Further Education; Northern Ireland; Education Policy; Boards; Leadership

Research in Post-Compulsory Education: Volume 27, Issue 3

FundersESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/12/2022
Publication date online12/08/2022
Date accepted by journal28/10/2021

People (1)


Dr Aileen Ireland

Dr Aileen Ireland

Lecturer Professional Educ & Leadership, Education

Projects (1)