Although it agrees with the concept of a two-year, vocationally-based degree course, the CBI says that the current proposal is flawed and "runs the risk of duplicating current provision".
Three-quarters of the 253 firms surveyed said they could see the value of a vocationally-orientated foundation degree but 81 per cent said the current range of sub-
degree qualifications - including higher national certificates and diplomas - was confusing. "There is no clear case for another qualification at this level," the CBI says.
It proposes that the foundation degree should be integrated into a national credit system for higher and further education, making it equivalent to two years' study towards an honours degree.
"This would benefit a large group of people, ranging from some of the 19 per cent who currently drop out of honours courses, to those who only ever wanted an intermediate-level qualification."
Two-thirds of firms surveyed anticipated increased demand for people with degrees, while only 49 per cent expected to take on people with sub-degree qualifications. The CBI says that it may even reduc the pressure to make full honours degrees more vocationally-focused.
But despite their reservations about aspects of the foundation degree, CBI members strongly support it in principle. Seventy-five per cent said that they were likely or very likely to encourage staff to study for the new qualification, 81 per cent would allow work-based assessment or accreditation and 67 per cent would offer work-placements.
John Roberts, chairman of the CBI's education and training affairs committee, said: "The broad objectives of the foundation degree are right. But there is a danger that it is not being properly thought through.
"Unless the Government takes the time to make sure that the new qualification truly meets the long-term needs of employers and students alike, it could well end up as a good idea badly implemented."
Although foundation degrees will be funded and awarded through universities, colleges are expected to deliver a large proportion of them and they are seen as crucial in the Government's drive to recruit 700,000 people into further education over the next two years. A DFEE-appointed working party of representatives from further and higher education is working on the delivery and content of the new qualification, which will be piloted from September.