Further education institutions should concentrate on complementing higher education provision rather than developing freestanding higher education capacity of their own, say vice chancellors.
The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals' response to the Higher Education Funding Council for England consultation paper Higher Education in Further Education Colleges: Funding the Relationship argues that further freestanding development would have few advantages and numerous dangers. "In present circumstances any real increase in HEFCE funding in the FE sector could only be paid for by a further acceleration in the decline of the unit of funding. For the same reason an extension of capital or research funding to further education colleges would be un-acceptable."
They say that it would also increase the danger of mission drift and that "the role of HE in FE should be to satisfy specific needs which cannot be met by HEIs, or by HEIs alone". Examples could include greater provision of short sub-degree courses to service an expanded HE sector.
The CVCP says that such courses should be provided by university-led HE/FE partnerships rather than FE colleges alone. This, they say, would assist linking with degree courses and development of creative partnerships in teaching and learning.
Funding should sustain various forms of collaboration, including franchises, and should take account of local initiatives.