A college has been granted full taught degree awarding powers for the first time.
The historic move effectively puts NCG, formerly known as the Newcastle College Group, on a level footing with universities.
The “landmark” move follows an intensive scrutiny process by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
NCG is one of five FE colleges which already has foundation degree awarding powers, alongside the Hull College Group, Grimsby Institute, New College Durham and Warwickshire College. Since 2014, more than 1,000 graduates each year have had their degrees accredited by NCG.
Chief executive Joe Docherty said: “Gaining taught degree awarding powers is a landmark development for the sector. It’s a real breakthrough nationally and we are extremely proud to be leading the way for the whole of the further education sector.
“Our colleges already work closely with employers to develop provision that addresses local and national skills gaps. Degree awarding powers will enable us to be more responsive to the demand for higher level skills as well as supporting the local economy and more people into jobs.
“We look forward to seeing other colleges following this path and would be happy to share our experiences with others in the sector.”
The announcement was welcomed by universities and science minister Jo Johnson.“This is a significant step forward for NCG and opens up more opportunities for young people in the local community to enjoy the benefits that higher education can bring,” he said.
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The ability to award taught degrees is a big step forward in demonstrating the quality of higher education provision delivered in the sector. Hopefully the government’s Higher Education and Research Bill will reduce any unnecessary bureaucracy to benefit colleges currently in the application process.
“We predict that more colleges will follow the example set by NCG in the next few years and will provide a distinctive HE service that meets the needs of local employers and communities.”
NCG is one of the biggest providers in the country. With a turnover of £178 million, 3,000 staff and 61 locations, NCG consists of Newcastle, Kidderminster and West Lancashire colleges., as well as two training providers and a sixth-form college.
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