|Foreword||Sir Howard Newby|
|Chapter 1||How colleges used the HEFCE development funding|
|Chapter 2||Relationship between scholarly activity, research, and teaching and learning: a review of the evidence|
|Chapter 3||Case studies of partnership and collaboration|
|Chapter 4||Strategic planning and management|
|Annex A||Project team, advisory group and working group|
|Annex B||Recent legislation on disability and race relations|
|Annex C||Addresses and web-sites|
|List of abbreviations|
This good practice guide and its companion (HEFCE 2003/15) are very timely. They are published at a point when the Government's White Paper has marked out an important role for further education colleges in developing capacity for higher education, contributing their particular strengths to meet local and regional skills needs, and providing routes for students to progress into higher education. Over the coming year we shall continue working with colleges to help ensure that they can offer learners the opportunity to engage in high quality HE and can build on their work with partner universities and higher education institutions. These guides reflect the results of extensive collaboration, carried out through the HE in FE training and support programme, working jointly with FE colleges, HEIs, sector representative bodies at regional and national levels, and the HEFCE. They are aimed at supporting managers and lecturers engaged in HE in FE colleges, and provide a framework for planning and managing HE activity. They also set out ideas and examples of how good practice can be shared and enhanced through networking.
I am sure that staff in both FE colleges and HEIs alike will find these guides helpful, and I hope that they will use them extensively to support them in widening and increasing students' access to HE.
Sir Howard Newby
Higher Education Funding Council for England
Role of further education in widening participation
In recent years, further education colleges (FECs) have come to play an increasingly important role as providers of higher education programmes. Following the recommendations of the Dearing Committee that FECs should be given 'a special mission' in the expansion of sub-degree higher education, there has been a marked growth both in the numbers of students who pursue higher education courses within FECs and in the variety of programmes offered by the colleges.
The rationale underlying this expansion is partly a reflection of the further education sector's success in recruiting non-traditional students, which has helped bring the sector to the attention of policymakers and others concerned with raising the level of participation in higher education (HE). It is often said that it is precisely because FECs are not higher education institutions (HEIs) that they are well placed to recruit and teach non-traditional students, and are able to do so at a lower cost than HEIs.
FECs are now seen as being vital in helping to achieve the Government's target to involve 50 per cent of the 18-30 age range in higher education by 2010. This is because of their proven track record in recruiting students from under-represented groups, their local accessibility, supportive and flexible methods of delivery, and close contacts with local schools, employers and HEIs.
Nevertheless, the development and growth of HE in FE has been controversial. Concern has been expressed about the quality (perceived and real) of the FE pathway through higher education, but this has largely ignored the rich and complex picture which is now emerging of excellent practice and a high level of professional commitment.
One of the recommendations of the Dearing inquiry was that responsibility for funding all categories of publicly funded higher education should be taken on by HEFCE. Since 1999, HEFCE has been responsible for funding all first degree, postgraduate, Higher National Diploma and Certificate (HND and HNC), Diploma of Higher Education, Certificate of Education and, since 2000, foundation degree courses.
It is a responsibility which covers a diverse and complex pattern of provision. As well as students on HNC and HND courses, FECs are teaching significant numbers of students on other undergraduate level courses, many of them operating under a variety of bilateral and multilateral arrangements with HEIs.
Since colleges do not have the power to award their own HE qualifications, there are different arrangements for students to study for those qualifications. Some HE courses, including many leading to higher level vocational qualifications, lead to awards from professional institutions or the major public examining bodies. Most of this non-prescribed higher education is funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Most HNC and HND provision is validated by Edexcel, but some Higher Nationals, as well as all foundation degree and undergraduate courses, are offered almost entirely in bilateral and multilateral partnerships with HEIs.
The arrangements for collaboration involve varying degrees of formality, including franchising agreements, joint provision, validation arrangements, and articulation agreements. However good the partnerships are, they are extremely time-consuming and would benefit from greater transparency overall. HEFCE has recently commissioned a review of indirectly funded arrangements, which will report in autumn 2003.
The prospect of a further 350,000 students entering higher education by 2010, many of them studying in FECs, underlines the urgency involved in supporting and developing this provision and these partnerships.
In order to help build capacity in FECs for the delivery of HE provision, HEFCE announced details of a new £9.4 million fund. This is intended 'specifically to raise the quality and standards of HE learning and teaching' within FECs, and ensure that 'the student experience in FECs is comparable to that in HEIs' (HEFCE 00/09). The HE in FE Development Fund was allocated to all FECs with over 100 HEFCE-funded full-time equivalent students (FTEs), and to consortia, for the period 1999-2000 to 2001-02. A further £18.5 million has since been approved for 2001-02 to 2003-04.
The HE in FE Training and Support Programme was a research and development project, funded by HEFCE and carried out by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) in partnership with the University of Warwick, City College Manchester, and Sheffield Hallam University.
The project reviewed the provision of HE in FECs from the perspective of college staff, established how the first round of the HEFCE development funding has been spent within colleges, and identified issues for further discussion - including scholarly activity, quality matters, staff terms and conditions, and the student experience.
An advisory group supported and advised the project team. Preliminary research identified numerous examples of good practice as well as specific requests for guidance. The team was supported by a small working group in developing preliminary drafts. Membership of both groups is given in Annex A.
As the project developed, national and regional advisory and consultation events were held with senior managers and front line staff responsible for the provision and delivery of HE programmes in FECs. These discussions involved over 500 people from a wide range of institutions, including HEIs. HEFCE regional consultants and representatives of the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) also contributed helpfully at this stage.
This publication, concerned with strategic matters and aimed at senior managers, together with its sister publication, concerned with implementation and aimed at practitioners, represent the fruits of this process. Ideally these publications should be read together to connect strategy and practice, although each can stand alone. Although the initial research focused on larger colleges eligible for HEFCE development funding, the materials are addressed to the sector as a whole, including colleges where HE provision is relatively new and possibly unsupported.
Structure of the document
Chapter 1 reports on the survey by the University of Warwick into how colleges spent the first round of HEFCE development funding, awarded to directly funded colleges in 1999-2000. It maps out the key themes which form the basis for Chapter 4, Strategic planning and management.
During the national consultation conferences, particular interest was expressed in what was meant by scholarly activity. This is briefly discussed in Chapter 2 in a review of the debates relating to research, teaching and learning.
Chapter 3 reflects the increasing importance of partnerships in the delivery of HE in FE. It illustrates the range of collaborative arrangements through five case studies, and suggests some key features of successful partnerships.
Chapter 4 builds on the ideas and information supplied by respondents to the questionnaire (see Chapter 1). It offers a framework for the strategic planning and management of HE in FE, and proposes seven key themes to be considered in the planning process. These themes are developed further in the sister publication aimed at practitioners.
Finally, the project has sought to stimulate discussion on how good practice can be further developed, shared and sustained through active local, regional and national networks. HE in FE is an important and increasingly significant area of work, which merits greater recognition and a national voice. As discussions gather momentum, these materials will contribute to advancing the interests and enhancing the delivery of HE in FE in the future.