The government should heed the lessons learnt in Scottish further and higher education as it takes forward plans to expand HE through FE colleges in England, a new report says.
Scotland has not only achieved the government 50 per cent participation target but 34 per cent of HE enrolments are in FE colleges. This has been possible because colleges have been freed from the constraints of the HE system.
An analysis of how Scottish HE has grown has been published by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) to inform policy-making for the English system.
The report, by Jim Gallacher, professor of lifelong learning at Glasgow Caledonian University, notes that one of the strengths of the Scottish system is that it has developed advanced vocational learning in specialist institutions that is often distinct from the HE offered in universities.
Colleges have been freed of dependence on the franchising, funding and quality assessment arrangements for higher education by the creation of a national system for developing and accrediting awards under the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
One weakness of the Scottish system that will need to be addressed in England is weak progression from colleges into HE, the report notes.
Richard Brown, CIHE chief executive, said that a national credit accumulation and transfer system, alongside a national qualifications framework, was needed to overcome this problem.