A further education college has become only the fourth in England to be granted degree-awarding powers.
Warwickshire College was given permission to award its own foundation degrees after applying to the Privy Council. The college already offers more than 70 foundation degrees and full honours degrees validated by several universities, and more than 1,000 of its students are currently studying for HE qualifications.
However, the new powers allow it to offer the qualifications without requiring a university partner. To gain the powers, Warwickshire was subject to a year of scrutiny by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
Sue Georgious, the college’s interim principal, said: “The award is the culmination of more than three years of hard work by the college and serves to demonstrate that our higher education quality and standards are equal to any university in the country.”
Dr Ann Cotterill, director of higher education, said the college can now begin to design its own foundation degrees to meet the needs of local employers. “Many of our existing courses will not change as we have developed excellent collaborative links with our partner universities that serve both students and employers well, but these powers give us the flexibility to be responsive to local and national needs,” she added.
Almost 300 colleges in England offer HE courses designed and accredited by universities but until now only three have the power to award their own foundation degrees: New College Durham, Newcastle College and Grimsby Institute.
The announcement follows recent calls from the FE sector to make it easier for colleges to design and credit their own HE courses.
Universities minister Greg Clark congratulated the college. He said: “Foundation degrees play a key part of the government’s plan to increase the diversity and flexibility of higher education so that students have more choice in gaining the skills they need to get on in life.”
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Give FE colleges same freedoms as universities, says AoC – July 2014