FEDA to be 'agency with attitude'

September 18, 1998

The Further Education Development Agency intends to get involved in training university lecturers and developing higher education curricula, its new chief executive said this week.

Chris Hughes, who took up his post last week, said FEDA's staff development programmes and curriculum design services were becoming just as relevant to the higher education sector as they are to colleges.

Three months after being criticised by the all-party Commons education select committee for lacking a "clear strategic vision" and not providing value for money, FEDA must become an "agency with attitude", Mr Hughes said, "driving the lifelong learning agenda right down into the higher education sector".

He said that FEDA could provide training programmes to help university lecturers cope with the "changed terms of trade" in higher education.

"As we look at widening participation," he said, "the government will not only expect that universities reach previously disenfranchised learners, but that they drive up retention and achievement.

"It is part of the job of the teachers to make sure people get through courses. This is one of the biggest challenges to university teachers, and we can help them."

He said that he did not want FEDA to "tread on the toes" of the new Institute for Learning and Teaching in higher education. "We would want to feed in our experiences from further education," he said, "and to help disseminate good practice. FEDA is about further education, but those boundaries are not as clear as they were."

He said that FEDA could also help universities with curriculum design, as employers' demands for more vocational training, and key skills, increase.

The four-year-old agency was rocked when select committee chair Margaret Hodge, now an education minister, said that she was "extremely sceptical" about the value for money of FEDA's Pounds 10 million annual turnover and 30 staff.

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