Our History

For over 100 years, emfec has worked to support colleges, providers, and partners within the further education and skills sector.

From humble beginnings in 1912, emfec began as the East Midlands Education Union (EMEU), formed as a direct response to the National Board of Education’s withdrawal of Science examinations in 1899. Despite opposition from the Board of Education, the examinations were re-established. This victory was the first of many accomplishments, demonstrating how a collective voice can affect positive change in the interest of learners.

As the sector continued to evolve, in 1946 the Ministry of Education proposed that further education be organised on a regional basis. Regional Advisory Councils created a collective voice for local education authorities, universities, technical colleges, and representatives from industry and commerce. The East Midlands Council became known as the “Regional Advisory Council for the Organisation of Further Education in the East Midlands (RACOFEEM). Early priorities included encouraging tutors to return to their respective industries for up to six months to gain experience of the latest working practices, and developing Bachelor of Technology degrees to be awarded by technical colleges.

By 1970, EMEU had grown to set nearly 500 written examinations, receiving 67,000 subject entries. It was also working closely with City & Guilds in providing examinations for national Craft and Technician courses which would now be recognised as apprenticeships.

EMEU and RACOFEEM continued their work until 1982, when Local Education Authorities were faced with increasingly tightening budgets. As a result, the activities of EMEU as an examining body and RACOFEEM as a planning and organising body combined to create what we now know as emfec.

On 1 January 1992, emfec began trading as a company limited by guarantee, whilst retaining its charitable status. On the national stage, the Incorporation of Colleges had seen the removal of further, tertiary and sixth form colleges from local authority control, giving them financial independence. As a member-led organisation, emfec was now free to provide its services directly to the newly-independent sector.

After celebrating its Centennial Year in 2012, emfec has continued to respond to member and stakeholder needs and has continually reviewed its portfolio of services. At the heart of this mission, emfec has grown to develop project and international work, particularly through collaborations and partnership arrangements.

Our Timeline