Garrick acknowledges the key role played by FE colleges in higher education, particularly their role in widening access to the sector But it recommends that FE should concentrate on what it does best and not run courses beyond HNCD levels. Colleges will be able to capitalise on those courses as the number of post-16 students with Higher Still qualifications and mature students expands.
The committee is anxious to prevent "mission drift" by academically inclined colleges deserting their vocational roots. But it makes an exception for colleges in remote areas which may offer the only degree option for students A quarter of all Scottish HE is delivered in FE colleges, double their contribution in rest of the UK. Of part-time higher education, 42 per cent takes place in FE colleges. Of those holding HNCD qualifications, 55 per cent move on to study in HE compared with 17 per cent in 1985. Less affluent HE students also opt for FE colleges.
The Garrick committee's proposal for a separate FE funding council has been accepted in principle by the Government. It would have an overlapping membership with the HE funding body but a single chief executive. Merging the two councils would remain an option.