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Get a degree without the debt

Students can now study for a degree course at their local college in a unique collaboration between further and higher education.

Students with a higher national diploma in a management-related discipline who enter the third year of Heriot-Watt University's BA degree course do not have to attend daytime classes - or study on their own through distance learning.

Instead, HND beginners have been allowed from last month to follow the Heriot-Watt course at evening classes taught by local tutors in their local college. Students are taught from the same materials as full-time degree students - and work towards exams set and marked by the university.

West Lothian, Lauder and Cumbernauld colleges have signed up to the deal with Stevenson, Borders, Dundee and Aberdeen set to come on board next September.

"Articulation agreements can be very complex. This one satisfies all parties involved," Moira Glencorse, West Lothian college's quality assurance manager, says. "Our students want local delivery of courses. They also do not want to have to give up their jobs - and earnings - to study full-time."

Leading the project is Ray Donnelly, director of Heriot-Watt's Social Enterprise Institute. "The link-up is based on the 'degree without debt'

formula which is vital in these days of lifelong learning," Mr Donnelly says. "We know there is a demand out there from people who want to upgrade their qualifications."

The initiative is the latest in a growing trend as the Scottish Executive seeks to drive colleges and universities closer together in what is known as the "two-plus-two" approach.

The intention is to allow students to sign up to the last two years of an honours degree if they have successfully completed the first two years of a degree-equivalent course in FE.

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