100 foundation degrees are put on hold by awarding body

July 9, 2004

Awarding body Edexcel has been forced to abandon plans to offer almost 100 foundation degree courses from September, after The Times Higher 's report that the proposed courses would breach academic quality assurance rules.

Edexcel confirmed this week that it had sent letters to colleges that planned to run its flagship BTec foundation degrees, saying that the plans had been put on hold for a year.

The Times Higher reported in May that Edexcel was unlikely to deliver the Government-backed foundation degrees because it had failed to sign up any universities as degree-awarding bodies.

Guidelines on franchised courses by the Quality Assurance Agency state that the awarding body for any degree course must be close enough to the delivery of material to ensure quality. But under the Edexcel arrangements, a pre-assigned awarding university would in effect rubber-stamp a course designed and managed by Edexcel and delivered by a further education college.

Edexcel announced in February that it had signed up Greenwich and Northumbria universities to award the degrees. In May, both confirmed that they would not sign up until they were sure the plans would meet the QAA rules. Northumbria confirmed this week that it had still not agreed a deal.

Edexcel said this week that it would be offering foundation degree programmes under licence from this September where colleges are working with local, longer-standing university partners. It said it was considering inviting at least two more universities to become validating partners.

An Edexcel spokesman said: "One option we are exploring is to get more university partners involved so that we will have more resources and there will be less distance between validating institutions and the colleges offering the courses."

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