THE FE VIEW
Further education college leaders may be fully behind government plans to pour the lion's share of higher education expansion funding into further education, but they are still wary of mission drift in their sector.
The Association of Colleges has approved of the Department for Education and Employment's move to clamp down on the indiscriminate use of university college titles, and the QAA's redefining of higher education institutions.
But it is playing down the fact that the QAA has given further education colleges the opportunity to apply for degree-awarding powers if they can meet proposed new criteria.
John Brennan, the AoC's director of further education development, said that rather than seeking a blurring of the boundaries between the sectors, a clearer distinction between further and higher education institutions was needed.
He said: "There are now over 200 further education colleges that are getting some form of financial support from the higher education funding councils. They represent an important strand in higher education provision, but most of them have no aspiration to move into the higher education sector."
It was "not particularly helpful" for SCOP to court further education colleges seeking associate membership, he added.
"We have represented further education colleges with significant higher education over the years, and we would not see it as necessary for SCOP to take on that role," he said.