Further education praised for ‘unique’ HE contribution

Further education colleges are giving students a “unique” environment in which to undertake higher education, according to a new report.

December 21, 2013

Capturing an HE ethos in college higher education practice, released by the Quality Assurance Agency on 19 December, looked at six different colleges that were teaching in higher education.

They were “increasingly” taking on teachers who only taught higher education, the report found, but normally teachers taught further education as well.

“The teachers saw themselves very much as HE in FE teachers, that is, not FE teachers, but also not strictly HE teachers, but something clearly distinct,” it says.

Managers who looked after higher education in the colleges were often keen to stress that they were not trying to “mimic traditional university provision”.

The report found “emerging cultures” of “scholarly activity” at the colleges, which hosted internal conferences and seminars to discuss research by staff. 

It discovered “evidence of a growing confidence in not wishing to emulate the type of research being undertaken by many university academics, but to stay more focused on producing scholarly outputs which will have more immediate and local impacts”.

Colleges were “unlikely” to make “headway” in “competing with universities on the production of original research”, it concluded.

“Indeed, from the evidence in this report, colleges may not wish to even contemplate that, preferring instead to engage in a wide range of scholarship more suited to their context,” it added.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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