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Love Our Colleges X Love Your High Street

How can colleges and high streets better intertwine?


Compelled by the decline of the high streets as well as cuts to colleges, we set about exploring the potential benefits that these two entities might enjoy through enhanced interrelationships.


High Streets have for decades been the focal point of our towns and villages; as much a place to meet as a place to trade. But lifestyles and habits are changing and with the ascent of online shopping, falling profits and rising costs, many high streets are fading, if not failing. The high streets that are surviving are doing so through the nurture of market responsive independent retailers, targeted community enterprise and local distinctiveness.

Meanwhile, behind many a High Street is a College, an essential part of England’s educational system and a vital part of many neighbourhoods. Colleges help people of all ages and backgrounds to make the most of their talents and ambitions. Rooted in local communities, they are crucial in driving social mobility and providing the skills necessary to boost the “experience economy” services provided on our local High Streets.

But over the last decade, UK Colleges have been hit by a 30% funding cut which has dramatically impacted upon adult and youth education. The result is fewer people in learning, less teaching hours and a growing population that lacks the skills required to prosper and contribute towards a vibrant local economy.

As separate entities, these two UK institutions could struggle. Might they be better off if they worked together, blurring boundaries and forging new relationships, stimulating enterprise and supporting learning? A glorious symbiosis between College and High Street!


We found that the future success of our local high streets and colleges will be increasingly dependent on symbiotic relationships, blurring boundaries and forging new relationships to stimulate enterprise and support learning. London based case studies teased out the potential to integrate retail and learning institutions in new and inspiring environments with a different kind of draw. Lateral thinking and a collaborative approach with key actors in both fields brought new and fresh perspectives to two sectors in need of change.

We captured our research and propositions over an assortment of media, including a booklet of our design proposals and investigations:

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We also produced a short film with staff and students from New City College:

And we held an exhibition accompanied by a launch party where students from NCC showcased their skills.

Since the launch of our campaign, we’ve been applying our findings and ideas to a number of SEW’s live schemes, and over the course of 2020, we’re looking forward to unveiling some of these vibrant placemaking visions.



Love Our Colleges X Love Your High Street