Bac may force change to degrees

October 24, 2003

Degree programmes may have to be revised if a baccalaureate-style diploma system for 14 to 19-year-olds is introduced, further education college heads have warned, writes Tony Tysome.

The plans, under consideration by the government's committee on education headed by former chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson, will have to ensure a smooth progression for students from secondary school or further education to higher education, the Association of Colleges has said.

This must include ending "the devaluing of the school curriculum by those in HE who direct undergraduates to 'forget what they have learned at school' as too simplistic or 'wrong'", says the AoC's response to the proposals.

It will be crucial for higher education institutions to be involved in designing the diploma so that reforms provide the necessary preparation for study at degree level, the AoC says.

But it adds: "While it is feasible to build into a diploma structure the specifications within existing A levels that are valued by HE or acknowledged as 'assumed knowledge', HE may have to take on board that a revised 14-19 curriculum may necessitate a revision of degree specifications."

The proposals, to be finalised in June, are for a diploma at entry, foundation, intermediate and advanced levels. Qualifications, including A levels, would be scrapped or incorporated into the overarching qualification.

The AoC says it is "imperative" that the qualifications framework and subject benchmarks for the new regime link up with those developed by the Quality Assurance Agency. It says "disjunctions" between frameworks devised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the QAA must therefore be "urgently addressed".

While supporting most of the proposals, the AoC notes that they include "remarkably little" on employment routes. The development of modern apprenticeships should be incorporated into the diploma framework to ensure that young people have the option to progress directly into employment, it says.

  • New ways of motivating adults to become learners are needed if government lifelong learning targets are to be achieved, a report from the Learning and Skills Development Agency says.


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