The Cabinet Office has announced that the new UK College for National Security will launch in a matter of weeks and begin training officials in the autumn.
Creating the new college was trailed as part of the wider Campus for Government Skills initiative last year, and formally proposed in the subsequent Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.
The Integrated Review identified a need to upskill the national-security sector's workforce, build resilient networks among professionals, and provide a platform for international collaboration
Now ministers have set out an opening date and additional details of the college’s operations and named the National Security College at the Australian National University as its first international partner.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis said the college’s programme would provide training to officials in national security teams across government, with a “particular focus” on strategic training for policy experts at the height of their careers. He said making sure officials were up to speed with the latest science and technology skills would also be a core offer.
“The programme will build our resilience capabilities, enhancing officials' skill sets and utilising the knowledge of our security experts to inform them of the best ways the UK can be protected,” he said.
“By taking a wider systems approach to learning and development through collaborating with experts across sectors and continents, we are maximising the resources and expertise available to us and ensuring that we can deliver the best possible national security policy.”
Ellis said he expected the college’s work with the Australian National Security College would “harness our collective expertise from opposite sides of the globe” and keep both nations on the front foot in tackling the growing range of domestic and global threats.
“International collaboration is a key pillar of the college and we are proud to be working with our Australian colleagues to leverage resources and opportunities from across government, industry, academia and the private sector to drive forward this exciting initiative,” he said.
Prof Rory Medcalf, head of the Australian National Security College, said work was already under way to explore exactly how the two national colleges could best collaborate.
“We've begun discussions with the leadership of the new UK college and we'll work closely to map a partnership spanning shared curricula, staff exchange and priority research,” he said
“Our mission is to develop the people, ideas and networks for a secure Australian future, and I'm delighted we can take that further with such a close international partner.”
The college will be run from the Government Skills and Curriculum Unit, which is part of Civil Service HR in the Cabinet Office. Its curriculum will be developed in partnership with the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Intelligence Assessment Academy and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s International Academy.
Unlike the old Civil Service College at Sunningdale, in Berkshire, which is currently being redeveloped as a luxury housing, the new Government Campus – which the College for National Security will be part of – is a looser organisation.
Civil Service World understands that the National Security College’s programmes will run out of existing facilities across the national-security community, and offer training in a range of online and in-person formats.