New courses aiming to bridge the gap between further and higher education are being launched now that the University of the Arts London has become the third UK higher education institution to secure further education awarding powers. Previously, further education students studying foundation diplomas in art and design at the university could study only at level 3, equating to A-level standard. The new powers gained by the university mean that students can now study a mixture of level 3 and level 4 courses, equating to the first year of a degree. According to the university, the advantage of this new model is that further education students wishing to continue their studies at BA level will avoid the academic "culture shock" of the transition. Michael Smith, executive manager of the university's awarding body team, said: "We have been given a real chance to steer the future of further education and play our part in creating an integrated education system."