Colleges fear they will have too little say in the design of foundation degrees

April 7, 2000

Colleges fear they will have too little say in the design of foundation degrees, even though they are to deliver the bulk of the new qualifications, writes Alan Thomson.

There are only two representatives from the college sector on the 17-strong main foundation degree group set up by the government in February. The body's working sub- group has 15 members: four from further education and eight, including the chairman, David Robertson of Liverpool John Moores University, from higher education.

Judith Norrington, who has sat on the main committee but is now replaced by Caroline Neville, principal of Norwich City College, said: "The level of further education representation is appalling."

The group is to advise on the core components of the degrees, a funding regime, the degree's place in the higher education qualifications framework, entry requirements and progression mechanisms to higher qualifications. It will also help produce a draft prospectus inviting bids from higher and further education consortia to deliver prototype courses.

Ruth Silver, principal of Lewisham College and a member of Professor Robertson's working group, said: "I am happy with the representation because we can hold our own. It is right that we have a lot of representatives from higher education because universities will accredit the qualifications and so make them marketable.

"But I would have liked more further education people on the main group. Our task on the working group will be to put models to the main committee. So, while we may win victories in our own group, these could be defeated or rejected at this other level."

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