The Guardian reports on some leaked snippets from the Wilson review today.
A welcome proposal is included to make it easier for FE colleges to validate their own Foundation Degrees.
The review is likely to recommend allowing consortia of FE colleges to validate and award two-year foundation degrees themselves without being forced to rely on a university, and for the process to be speeded up.
On the one hand, I heave a heavy sigh because this is another change that doesn’t require any changes! It is already possible for FE colleges to gain their own powers to validate foundation degrees, or to set up consortia that could do so. They gain that power by applying to the QAA and receiving their recommendation. This has been the case for the best part of 7 years.
Having said that, the process is very difficult and the FE sector have argued (with some justification, I think) that the whole process sets the hurdle too high for them, particularly when they have been actively delivering degree programmes for far longer than many new private entrants to the market. So, if nothing else, lets hope the Wilson review gives some fair wind to their campaign.
The reason this would be a positive development, is that FE colleges are very well equipped and experience at working directly with employers to provide higher learning and development opportunities that meet local needs and appeal directly to people who would never otherwise consider higher education. FE colleges have a much stronger track record of widening participation than Universities and they should be applauded, supported and encouraged to grow.