Regulating degree apprenticeships and approving baseline standards is very different to the usual process of awarding degrees. Catherine Boyd asks whether the current processes blur the lines of university autonomy.
Raising productivity by improving higher technical education: Tackling the Level 4 and Level 5 conundrum, released today, HEPI explores the ‘land between’ Level 3 and Level 6 qualifications and sets out proposals to that should improve vocational sector.
What ever happened to foundation degrees? Ben Verinder dusts down the current policy and communications context for the oft-forgotten qualification.
Days before the National Student Survey (NSS) goes live, the National College for Teaching and Learning, responsible for overseeing Initial Teacher Training has inexplicably pulled the plug on universities and future students receiving and learning from effective student feedback. One vice chancellor expresses his frustration at this counter-productive and contradictory move.
Anyone interested in higher education funding and regulation should take some time out in the next few weeks to think about Higher National Diplomas. The plan recently announced by BIS to transfer HNDs and HNCs out of the higher education funding system represents an important moment in policy for both HE and FE. Julian Gravatt looks at the long history of higher nationals and the implications of BIS’ latest proposals for funding and regulation.
It is widely understood that graduates with higher level skills are critical to the ability of the UK economy to innovate and thus be competitive internationally so it is vitally important that the way we measure how the supply of graduates meets the demand of employers is useful to both universities and businesses. Rosa Fernandez looks at recent research that shows why current measures of graduate employability are not sufficient, and shows how it could improve.
As we mark the end of Apprenticeships Week, Andy Westwood looks at how politicians and the media talk about apprenticeships and the false choice they continually present between them and higher education. There are good reasons to expand higher level apprenticeships, but this needs to happen in a better way – in collaboration with universities and learning from examples abroad.
There is no doubt that, as with most changes, the £9,000 fee system introduced in England in 2012-13 created winners and losers. We know that applications are back up for full-time undergraduates – and we know this includes students from non-traditional backgrounds, which is great. But that is not the whole story. On the day the Public Accounts Committee confirm the rising costs of writing off loans, Libby Hackett looks at the winners and losers in the current system, and calls for a fundamental rethink.
They finally arrived yesterday. BIS published both the HEFCE grant letter and the SFA’s Skills Funding Statement. One was 6 pages and the other 60 but they both delivered roughly the same amount of cash to the FE and HE sectors. They also delivered more or less what had been set out in the Autumn Statement – i.e. some quite significant cuts to both sectors but not too much more on top of what George Osborne delivered in December. Andy Westwood gives some early thoughts on the letters and the scramble over funding that will come.
We thought the last Spending Review in 2010 was bad enough. But this one – covering 2015-16 and then 2016-2018 is beginning to look a whole lot worse. Alongside this is a growing attack on the knowledge economy and the idea of human capital in the media and by policy makers. What might this mean for the future of further and higher education in the UK? Andy Westwood gives his take.
You could be forgiven for thinking that all is well – we’ve gone through the pain of reform and everything is now in place for the long term – the system, give or take a few thousand students (on a like for like comparison with 2011 this looks like we are over 50,000 down but after factoring in deferrals this might be more like 30,000), is in place, the sky hasn’t fallen in, resources maintained for universities and so on. But while there is some confidence that the new funding system might bed down over time there are looming questions over whether it will. There are three storm clouds on the horizon that together may question the sustainability of the new settlement.
There are few things that excite wonks more than excellent and well-timed policy research. Last week, BIS published its report Understanding Higher Education in Further Education Colleges, written by a dream team of policy researchers – Gareth Parry from Sheffield and Claire Callender, Peter Scott and Paul Temple from IoE. HE in FE is one of the least-understood parts of UK tertiary education, and despite pockets of work in other quarters; no one else has attempted such an exhaustive study of this issue. Although it will surely have its critics, this new report is without a doubt the seminal work about HE in FE right now and absolutely essential reading no matter which side of the HE/FE divide you fall.
The Government doesn’t quite know what it wants to do with the core and margin policy next year. At the moment their instinct is to run it again on more or less the same terms. Ministers don’t see either AAB or core and margin as permanent features of the system but they are mightily constrained by the short and longer term costs of the student loan book. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that the places top sliced and allocated through the core and margin will definitely be filled – UCAS application data shows that the biggest falls have been from older population groups and those perhaps already in work – both more common in the FE sector that has won most of the places.