Reaching out not overstretching 2

November 25, 2005

Sir Andrew Foster's report suggested that the majority of colleges should stop "dabbling" and focus on what they do best - delivering skills and employability to their students. Colleges rarely make the decision to "dabble" in higher education, often it just happened at some point in the past.

In a plan-driven sector, colleges are also businesses that are increasingly seeking additional income streams outside the constraints of the Learning and Skills Council. While universities might publicly deplore the inadequacy of higher education funding, colleges see it as very generous.

If a college is lucky enough to have a member of staff who can persuade it of a potential market, it will attempt to add that subject to its provision. The financial lure is too great.

However, once running a higher education programme, the college must face the issue of achieving and maintaining the quality of the provision.

Recruiting and retaining academic staff with a mix of commercial experience, a postgraduate qualification and a teaching qualification is the challenge yet to be seriously considered within most colleges.

John Curry
Higher education area leader
City of Bath College

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