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Foundations for success

In his leader ("Degrees bring power and a problem", 5 August), Joseph Lee made the point that awarding bodies grow out of universities. However, this is not the case for City amp; Guilds. We were set up in 1878 by the Corporation of the City of London and 16 livery companies - many of whom still sit on our council. As a Royal Chartered Body since 1900, our purpose is to work with industry and commerce to provide further technical and scientific education.

Today, we maintain these close links with the livery companies. Many are involved in our bursary programme and every year they support our medal winners. We continue to work directly with them, as well as with employers and professional bodies, to ensure our qualifications meet industry needs.

Unlike some of the awarding bodies you mentioned, City amp; Guilds is not part of the profit-making sector. As a charity, our surplus is reinvested for the benefit of learners and centres. For example, in recent years, we have invested heavily to develop state-of-the-art online assessments, following requests from our learners. We also have a major programme of support for apprenticeships and, through our bursary programme, we provide access opportunities for the disadvantaged.

It is excellent news to hear that New College Durham and Newcastle College have acquired the powers to award foundation degrees. At City amp; Guilds, we have been exploring degree-awarding options for some time as part of our overall progression strategy. It is important that we recognise the highest levels of achievement in vocational areas to engage employers and young people; this is a big step towards this goal.

Judith Norrington, group director of policy, research and regulation, City amp; Guilds.

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