£2.75m project launched to boost higher education in colleges

Darren Evans

A multi-million pound project has been launched to help further education colleges boost their higher technical education offering.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) has secured £2.75 million of funding from the Higher Education Council for England (Hefce) to improve the standards of learning for students taking HE courses in colleges.

A further £1 million will be provided by local employers and colleges themselves.

Fifteen lead colleges and 32 partner colleges are involved in the project, which aims to ensure that students undertaking practical HE have access to the most up-to-date industry information and experience.

This will include developing a culture in which teachers make regular visits to employers to bring real-life experience and work-based projects back to the classroom.

Nick Davy, HE policy manager at the AoC, said: “There is increasing demand for employees with practical skills at a higher level, such as a foundation degree or a higher national diploma, as the labour market changes and 3.6 million skilled older people will leave the workforce in the next 10 years.

“We are looking forward to working closely with the participating colleges to see how we can improve learning to ensure more graduates have the skills employers need from their staff.”

Professor Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of Hefce, said FE colleges had a “vital” role to play in the development and delivery of high-level technical knowledge and skills.

“Hefce is delighted to be working with the AoC and other partners on this project, which aims to bring about a step change in higher technical education scholarship and teaching practice,” she added.

“It will benefit the wider sector by deepening employer engagement, enhancing higher technical education, and improving students’ learning experiences and outcomes.”

Just last month, business secretary Vince Cable urged Hefce to work with colleges to develop “innovative curricula”.

In his annual grant letter, Mr Cable instructed Hefce to facilitate joint working between the HE and FE sectors.

And in January Hefce announced that 74 FE colleges in England would share more than £700,000 from a £22 million scheme to encourage more young people into higher education.


Related stories:

FE colleges hit back at ‘failing HE’ claims – 20 October, 2014

Amp up our higher powers, say colleges – 27 August, 2014

FE colleges top HE student satisfaction poll – 13 August, 2014

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