Childcare tops the expansion agenda

September 1, 2006

The most significant growth in employer-led higher education is expected to come from the public sector, notably government investment in children's services and from police training.

Sean Mackney, head of learning and teaching at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said the council was keen to test the extent of this.

"The Government's child-centred approach to children's services, outlined in its Every Child Matters document, involves considerable professional development for a number of agencies, from teachers to social workers. We are keen to help universities develop this work, so that those getting the training are also able to get a recognised qualification," he said.

He added that representatives from the Children's Workforce Development Council had discussed with Hefce the £51 million of new training provision announced in the development council's prospectus. "For some institutions, it presents quite an opportunity," he said.

Mr Mackney added that transferring police training into the higher education sector was also a significant move, with universities rapidly developing courses at the same time as police training centres were being shut and budgets devolved to local police forces.

"There is a question of which part of Government pays for these students' fees," he said.

"In the case of the police, it may be the Home Office or the Department for Education and Skills. Clear national mechanisms for this are yet to emerge."

But he stressed that Hefce was keen to ensure that private-sector needs were met. "We need to know how best to involve employers - what their needs are and what inducements will help."

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