House of Commons Library

University Technical Colleges

Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017

This House of Commons Library briefing discusses the origin, progress and future of University Technical Colleges - technical schools for 14-19 year olds, working alongside employers and universities in England, introduced under the Coalition Government

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What are University Technical Colleges?

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are technical schools for 14-19 year olds, working alongside employers and universities, introduced under the Coalition Government.  They operate as a type of academy, with relevant freedoms such as not having to follow the national curriculum, or employ teachers with qualified teacher status.  In keeping with other forms of academy, they operate in England only.

Key facts

  • In January 2017 there were 48 UTCs open across all regions in England. The first opened in September 2011, three more followed in 2012, and 13 opened in both 2013 and 2014 and 11 in both 2015 and 2016.
  • Two of the earlier UTCs closed at the end of the 2014/15 school year; Black Country UTC and Hackney UTC. Central Bedfordshire UTC closed at the end of 2015/16.
  • According to the Baker Dearing Educational Trust a further five are due to open in September 2017 and two more are currently planned for in 2018. In mid-2016 the Department for Education listed 20 potential UTCs in ‘pre-opening’ stage.


Two of the first created UTCs closed in summer 2015.  Hackney UTC and Black Country UTC had experienced disappointing pupil recruitment and received critical Ofsted reports.  Further closures have followed through 2016 and 2017, owing to low pupil take-up of places in the affected UTCs.

Other issues

More broadly, the small number of UTCs, and pupils attending them, make it difficult to draw firm conclusions on their impact at this stage.  The concerns that have been raised around the operation of UTCs have focused on enrolment numbers, and the attendance rates of pupils enrolled.  Concerns have also been raised about the proportion of female students enrolling at UTCs. 

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7250

Authors: Robert Long; Paul Bolton

Topics: Further education, Schools

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