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HE credit framework for England

Details of a national credit framework and associated guidance for its implementation.

Flexible learning pathfinders

We are providing development funding to higher education institutions to pilot models of flexible HE provision.

The Government's 2003 White Paper 'The Future of Higher Education' highlighted the need for 'more flexibility in courses, to meet the needs of a more diverse student body', and proposed the piloting and evaluation of two-year honours degrees. We have reflected this need in our strategic plan, which states:

'The pressures of global competition and the diversity of needs met by HE mean that the sector has to be increasingly flexible and responsive ...  We are encouraging and providing incentives for provision that offers learners flexibility about when and where they study, including part-time and workplace learning, and harnesses new technologies to support learning wherever and however it occurs.' (page 21)

We are encouraging pilot projects to focus on variation in pace and intensity of study, but they can also combine this with flexibility in method of delivery. It is anticipated that credit systems will generally underpin the models, and we hope that this will be facilitated by the new credit framework for HE in England and associated guidance published in August 2008, which will create greater consistency in the use of credit across the sector.

Funding pathfinder projects

We have allocated funds within our Strategic Development Fund to support the general development of flexible learning through pilot projects on a range of models, including two-year fast-track honours degrees.

There are currently eight pathfinder projects:


We are evaluating the pathfinders to consider issues arising, barriers to, and the advantages of, flexible provision. A final evaluation report will be published in 2008-09. It will include recommendations on further exploration of flexible learning, such as how the outcomes of the pilots might be disseminated, and further flexibility in HE provision developed.

As part of the pathfinder evaluation, the Higher Education Academy published a research report into accelerated learning programmes in May 2007.

Further information

Our 'Guidance for institutions' provides general information about the initiative.

Our Strategic Development Fund guidance (HEFCE 2006/15) provides information on submitting proposals.

For further information on flexible learning pathfinders contact Sheila Wolfenden, tel 0117 931 7301, e-mail

Last updated 3 September 2008