Higher education institutions are traditionally seen as competing against each other to recruit the best students. But, in Birmingham, one of the city’s providers has agreed to support courses that will lead directly to enrolment at another university.
Under an agreement announced on 20 July, University College Birmingham said that it would expand the range of foundation degrees that it validates in further education colleges, with the growth being “mapped onto” the University of Birmingham’s areas of expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
At the completion of one of these courses, students would be eligible to progress on to a degree at either institution with advanced standing, allowing them to graduate more quickly.
The agreement is part of a wider partnership that will see the two universities develop joint degree apprenticeships, focusing initially on nursing, collaborating in a range of other areas such as academic staff development, and sharing facilities.
The two universities have a history of working together that stretches back 22 years, with Birmingham having accredited and awarded 20,000 UCB degrees.
Sir David Eastwood, Birmingham’s vice-chancellor, said that the two institutions were “committed to giving the best opportunities to the broadest base of students we can reach”.
“If there is complementarity, if there is trust and if there is a firm foundation, there are real merits in collaboration,” he told Times Higher Education.
Ray Linforth, UCB’s vice-chancellor, said that the partnership would open up “clear pathways” to learners, particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds.
“To be able to set out a pathway for young people as early as possible in their career, knowing that they have the opportunity to progress to one of the best universities in the world, or one of the best-regarded specialist institutions in the UK, is a very compelling offer,” he said.