Some further education colleges plan to apply for taught-degree awarding powers and may bid for a university title under new rules proposed by the government, writes Tony Tysome.
Large "mixed economy" colleges that have significant numbers of higher education students are interested in acquiring the DAPs so that they can design courses to meet local employer and students' needs.
They want greater autonomy and more funding for their higher education provision and to escape the stranglehold they feel higher education institutions have over public perceptions about higher education delivery.
Some would even consider applying to use a university title under new rules announced by the Department for Education and Skills last week.
Institutions will be considered as prospective universities onlyif they have more than 4,000 full-time equivalent higher education students and meet quality criteria.
It is expected that most colleges already delivering higher education will not apply for DAPs because they have insufficient higher education numbers and consider such a move detrimental to their mission. But some with larger higher-education numbers have already signalled their interest.
Ron Pritchard, principal of North East Surrey College of Technology, said his college would want to pursue DAPsand possibly a university title.
Ann Cotterill, director of higher education for Warwickshire College, said her institution would be interested in a university title and would apply for DAPs.
"The savings we would make for not paying partner HEIs for franchise and validation services could be directed into further improving learning resources for our students," she said.
Research by the Learning and Skills Development Agency found that of 101 colleges surveyed, 44 were providing research and development services leading to the development of products, identifying new markets and improving efficiency for companies.