'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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf