Possible prototypes

October 27, 2000

The Warwick model

The University of Warwick has teamed up with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College and Tile Hill College to propose a foundation degree in community enterprise and development, aimed at the voluntary sector.

The university's institute of education has also designed a foundation degree in early years education, which closely follows an example contained in the foundation degree bids prospectus.

The community enterprise consortium suggests that students will largely be drawn from people involved in the voluntary or community sector, either as paid staff or volunteers. There will be a strong focus on attracting students fromdisadvantaged backgrounds.

Students' entry qualifications are expected to be very varied, but Warwick said: "We do expect to provide a progression route for people who have completed training programmes in the sector." Open College Network qualifications at level three in volunteer management, for instance, "might offer an ideal preparation for this degree".

The Warwick consortium plans to place a strong emphasis on student support during college and work-based stages of the programme, supplemented by online mentoring - a new initiative that will require some of the prototype funding to be invested in staff development.

The university expects to apply its policy of targeting access funds and bursaries to support local mature students to its foundation degree intake. Those who successfully complete the full-time programme will be able to join the third year of the BA in social studies at the university, after a one-term bridging course involving a practical project with study skills support.

The Derby model

Derby University proposes to work with its network of partner further education colleges throughout Derbyshire to provide foundation degrees in multimedia learning, early childhood care and change technology.

The model is a variation of one suggested by the foundation degree design group, which has been developing the qualification and identifying key issues. The design group proposed students should gain 120 credits at level one and 120 at level two in a three-level higher education qualifications framework. The university plans a vocational part-time model using work-based learning, which would fit in with its own lifelong learning framework.

It said: "We believe that the students attracted to the foundation degree will be those who are in work and wish to advance their knowledge and understanding in a vocational discipline through a structured programme of study. Many will have entered work with modest A levels (or no A levels) but will have developed their educational background through in-company courses."

Its version therefore takes into account key skills acquired at work, awarding up to 30 credits per level for them.

The Open University model

The Open University plans to deliver two foundation degrees through its regional centre in the Southeast: one in e-commerce to be provided in partnership with North East Surrey College of Technology and another in music technology with Northbrook College in Sussex.

The model proposed would involve students acquiring a minimum of 120 credits at levels one and two in a three-level framework, with a notional learning time of at least 2,400 hours, with assessed key skills and work experience, with the opportunity for a further 15 months' full-time study to gain a degree.

One unusual aspect of the OU proposal is that students may be awarded a certificate in higher education after the first year of study. It said: "In this way, students registered for a foundation degree, as opposed to a degree programme, are not unfairly penalised and their credit is appropriately recognised."

A transcript may also be issued showing the National Occupational Standards gained on the course. Outstanding OU foundation degree students may be recognised by the award of a distinction. The OU says these features provide a foundation degree that is a distinctive alternative to HNDs and HNCs.

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