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Going Higher with Foundation Degrees Catherine Taylor Higher Education Coordinator.

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1 Going Higher with Foundation Degrees Catherine Taylor Higher Education Coordinator

2 What are Foundation Degrees? “Foundation Degrees integrate academic and work- based learning through close collaboration between employers and programme providers. They build upon a long history of design and delivery of vocational qualifications in higher education, and are intended to equip learners with the skills and knowledge relevant to their employment, so satisfying the needs of employees and employers.” Foundation Degree Benchmark, QAA, 2010

3 Why were they introduced? Foundation Degrees were introduced by the former Department for Education and Skills in 2000 to provide the graduates who are needed within the labour market to address shortages in particular skills Foundation Degrees also aim to contribute to widening participation and lifelong learning by encouraging participation by learners who may not previously have considered studying for a higher level qualification The first programmes at Bicton were introduced in 2003 and others have been added since

4 What is their status? Foundation Degrees sit at Level 4 and 5 in the National Qualifications and Curriculum Framework (NCQF) and are therefore equivalent to the first two years of a full degree However, Foundation Degrees provide “self-standing qualifications of specific value” (QAA, 2010) and provide for opportunities for further / lifelong study, which could take a number of different forms In addition, Foundation Degrees normally link to at least one programme leading to a bachelors degree with honours enabling graduate to progress further should they wish to do so Foundation Degrees are designed and delivered by Colleges but validated, awarded and quality assured by Universities

5 What are their distinctive characteristics? Foundation Degrees have characteristics not necessarily present in other qualifications at Level 4 and 5, nor found in the initial parts of programmes that lead directly to bachelors degrees Their distinctiveness depends upon the integration of the following characteristics: –Employer involvement –Accessibility –Articulation and progression –Flexibility –Partnership They are also underpinned by authentic and innovative work- based learning

6 What are their distinctive characteristics? Employer involvement –Foundation Degrees are intended to provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills that employers need –To achieve this employers were fully involved in the design and validated of all Foundation Degree programmes at Bicton –All programmes also have a designated Link Employer, as well as a wide range of informal employer links, which enrich the programmes and ensure their vocational currency

7 What are their distinctive characteristics? Accessibility –Foundation Degrees are intended to increase access and widen participation into university level education –The accessibility of Foundation Degree programmes should increase opportunities for learning since they can enable learners to 'earn and learn’ –All Bicton programmes therefore enable access for learners from different starting points and with different entry qualifications –They also have concentrated timetables over three days per week – however both full and part time students must allow sufficient time for study

8 What are their distinctive characteristics? Flexibility –Flexibility on the part of the provided, the learner and the employer is central to many aspects of Foundation Degrees –At Bicton this flexibility includes the opportunity to study either full or part-time and ability to ‘flex’ the timetable to accommodate on and off-site practical activities and guest speakers and lecturers –However, the programmes are not validated for distance learning and full attendance in accordance with timetable is expected

9 What are their distinctive characteristics? Articulation and Progression –Clear routes that facilitate opportunities for successful progression from Foundation Degrees towards another qualification are an important feature of programmes –Such routes are established when programmes are validated and guarantee, subject to required level of achievement, progression to at least one bachelors degree with honours –All Bicton programmes are linked to Bachelors degrees at Plymouth University or to Partner Colleges in Devon and Cornwall –Graduates can also apply to the third year of programmes at other Universities and Colleges

10 Partnership Partnerships with Universities are vital in providing Foundation Degree programmes that are academically relevant and valid Bicton works in partnership with Plymouth University under an Academic Cooperation Agreement and is a member of the Academic Partnerships Faculty All staff teaching on programmes are Registered University Lecturers, as well as being academically qualified and vocationally experienced All students are also Plymouth University Students and have access to a wide range of additional resources and support

11 Why do students chose Foundation Degrees? Research undertaken by Plymouth University amongst Foundation Degree graduates in the South West examined why students chose to study Foundation Degrees The main reason a Foundation Degree was chosen was because: –The programme fitted their career plans exactly –They could study their chosen programme locally –The programme was cheaper than a traditional degree –They could achieve a recognised qualification within a shorter time period

12 What do Foundation Degree students do next? Further research investigated Foundation Degree graduates’ next steps The study found that: –The majority of graduates continued with their studies by ‘topping up’ to a Bachelors Degree The main reason given for this was that it was believed to be either essential or desirable to further their career Younger graduates were found to be more likely to pursue this route, although many mature (21+) students have successfully progressed

13 What do Foundation Degree students do next? –A fifth of graduates entered the workforce directly and within six months two-thirds were employed in jobs that fitted their career plans directly This tends to be affected by career position, existing employment/self employment opportunities and mode of study Mature graduates (21+) were found to more likely to pursue this route often as they already have additional skills and experiences Some students defer ‘topping up’ & return to studies at a later date, although this can be more challenging

14 Higher National Diplomas HNDs are set at the same level in the NQCF as Foundation Degrees They have a similar credit structure and also combine academic and vocational development The main difference is that they operate in accordance with a standard national syllabus rather than being develop locally They also do not have an approved ‘top up’ route, although successful students can apply to relevant Bachelors programmes elsewhere Bicton works with HEFCE and Edexcel to offer a HND in Sport as a University level study option for students joining the Exeter Chiefs Rugby Academy

15 Summing Up Foundation Degrees and HNDs: –Offer a realistic alternative to traditional degrees for those seeking university level education –Have a number of distinctive features that make them attractive to employers and students of all ages –Present an opportunity to take the first steps on a specific career path, to change career direction or to enhance prospects within an existing career –Provide a route through to a full Bachelors Degree, whilst acquiring essential vocational knowledge and skills –Enable students to study locally and cost effectively Use today to help you decide whether a Foundation Degree or HND at Bicton is the right option for you

16 Greetings from Bicton College! Wish you were here? 2014

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