Convergence criteria

October 17, 1997

THERE should be no arbitrary restriction on further education colleges offering degrees, further education funding heads have said, writes Tony Tysome.

The Further Education Funding Council for England says in its response to Dearing that it does not consider restricting institutions in further and higher education to distinctive qualifications will sufficiently encourage lifelong learning.

"The location of higher education delivery should be determined primarily on the basis of the standards and quality of provision which can be offered by the institution," the FEFCE's response paper says.

The funding council says it would oppose any restriction on growth in degree-level qualifications offered in further education, as suggested by Dearing.

The FEFCE also rejects Dearing's recommendation that FE colleges should normally have only one higher education partner - a proposal made on the grounds of protecting quality: "The council is not aware of any evidence which suggests a link between the number of franchise arrangements and poor quality provision."

The emphasis of the FEFCE's response is on a "further convergence of approaches between the FE and HE sectors", including the funding of teaching and learning, quality assurance and student financial support. There should be more fluid arrangements to enable progression between the sectors, particularly for mature students, the funding council says.

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