What are foundation degrees?

March 17, 2000

Educationists and employers arestruggling to define the nature and role of foundation degrees, writes Alan Thomson.

The group designing the degrees held its first meeting last Friday. Its first task was to define the new degree in relation to existing qualifications.

Judith Norrington, of the Association of Colleges, said: "We became aware that different people had different viewpoints on foundation degrees. There was debate on whether it would be a part-time route or whether it would be a full-time route but offered for students who want to do that rather than an honours degree."

The group's most challenging task will be to design a qualification appealing to both learners and employers.

Education secretary David Blunkett has said he wants it to be as prestigious as a traditional degree. But foundation degree graduates will have to complete an additional year and a term of study to gain a bachelor's. The degrees must have significant academic content to ensure this step is feasible.

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