'This new power to validate their own degrees will give colleges more flexibility'

A message from Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges

Today is my first as the new chief executive of AoC. Though I have been involved in education and training for many years, latterly as the director of training and education across all three armed forces, I continue to be surprised by the sheer reach of further education.

Around 200,000 people study higher education in a college and more than half of all foundation degree students are taught by a college. By a neat coincidence today is the first day in which colleges can apply to validate their own foundation degrees, independent from universities.

Foundation degree courses usually take two years to complete, although part-time courses take longer. Most students sit the course while employed – the qualifications are designed in partnership with employers and are therefore popular with business. Tesco recently made headlines with the announcement that it will offer its retail managers a foundation degree validated by the University of the Arts, London and Manchester Metropolitan University.

This new power to validate their own degrees, which will only be granted to institutions that pass a rigorous application procedure, will give colleges more flexibility to meet employer needs. Universities sometimes take a long time to validate qualifications and employers often don't want to wait that long. Several colleges already have a strong track-record in this field. Newcastle College, for instance, offers more than 40 foundation degrees in business, health, performing arts and education, working alongside public and private sector employers such as the NHS, Newcastle Council, Thistle Hotel Group and Avecia Biotechnology. Havering College runs a foundation degree with the Ford Motor Company and another for teaching assistants with local primary and secondary schools.

The range of courses is equally impressive and reflects colleges' drive to meet specific industry needs. The more notable include Bridgwater College's course in forensic science and archaeology, Blackpool and The Fylde's coastal conservation qualification, New College Durham's foundation degree in music management, an adventure tourism course provided by Bradford College, Newham College's railway engineering foundation degree and a computer games development qualification run by Runshaw College.

This new power for colleges is an important step towards increasing access for those who would not have traditionally entered higher education. It should also help to increase the number of alternative routes to university – a third of current students progress to higher learning, the vast majority on an honours degree.

In addition, this fresh opportunity reflects a general drive towards greater independence and self-regulation in the sector. That doesn't mean colleges want to emulate or take on the role of universities. Instead they will be looking to build on what is best about further education – flexibility, responsiveness, and accessibility.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Tradewind Recruitment: Graduate - Newly Qualified Teachers Required For Sept 2015

£21000 - £50000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Graduate Teachers/ Newly Qua...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required for a 'Good@ school - Ofsted 2015

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: My client primary school loc...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teachers Required in Norwich and Great Yarmouth

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am working on behalf of a ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map