How to Develop a Foundation Degree Introduction This guide is aimed at people in businesses, public sector employers, Sector Skills Councils, universities and colleges who want advice or support in designing and setting up a foundation degree. It offers information on: who needs to be involved researching the market how to design the programme to meet the needs of employers how to make sure it runs successfully and students achieve as much as they can quality assurance issues funding to set up and run foundation degrees, and to pay for tuition The guide has plenty of examples to help you translate the theory into practice. They are not intended as models of best practice, but as illustrations, so you can adapt them to meet your particular circumstances. They have come from the plans of those already involved in FDs, case studies from the Association of Colleges, and other sources. At various points throughout the guide there are sets of questions to consider, to prompt you as you set about developing your foundation degree. Section 1: Laying the foundations: Getting the partnership right Who can develop a foundation degree? Different players can take the initiative in setting up a foundation degree. The following table illustrates the types of organisation and their possible reasons for doing so: Organisations Reasons for getting involved Employers Individual companies or They need to develop current organisations (private, public or employees or to improve the voluntary), either acting individually abilities, understanding and or with the support of their Sector knowledge of future recruits. Skills Council. Sector Skills Councils Individual Sector Skills Councils, They have identified a current or recognised as the experts on projected future skills need in the employers’ skills needs in a given industry or employment sector. sector. Higher education institutions Universities and other institutions of The qualification will help to meet higher education a demand from students and/or employers in the local area or beyond. Further education colleges Colleges and other institutions that The qualification will help to meet a deliver further education demand from students and/or employers in the local area or beyond. Other organisations A number of other organisations The qualification will help to meet a could take the initiative in setting up particular need. a foundation degree, such as employer groups, professional bodies, trade associations or local associations. Core partners A foundation degree must be developed through a partnership between education institutions and employers, and two core types of partner are always required. A Higher Education institution (HEI) with degree-awarding powers will be needed for validation and quality assurance, although this requirement may be met via ‘Foundation Degree Forward’ ,once established, in cases where an FE college is driving the development of a FD without a local HE partner. The HEI will often contribute to the design of the FD and to aspects of its delivery. The HEI must also make sure that graduates have the opportunity to use their full FD credit towards the completion of at least one specific honours degree if they chose to do so. Employers are involved from the start of the design process. They help to make sure that the foundation degree meets the needs of their industry and that students will develop the skills they need. Typically, they contribute to the design and approval of programmes and work- based modules; they help to assess learning outcomes; and they provide facilities for work-based learning. Some employers may wish to develop their own foundation degree for their employees. Other partners Other organisations that will be involved in FD development and delivery partnerships include: FE colleges and other organisations can take on some or all of the design, development and delivery of the foundation degree. FE colleges in particular often have a central role locally, especially in delivery, and are likely to feature in most, if not all, foundation degrees. Sector Skills Councils are influential employer bodies. They are experts in their sector. Labour market analyses undertaken by Sector Skills Councils identify skills gaps that a foundation degree might address. Sector Skills Councils can help to develop the foundation degree and promote it among potential students, employers and employees. Their endorsement of a foundation degree is likely to be a critical factor in its success, so they should be involved from the start where the foundation degree is in a sector covered by a Sector Skills Council. Professional bodies play an important role in helping to promote the foundation degree with employers, reinforcing the value of the qualification. They may also be actively involved in the design and review of programmes. They can help to establish relationships between the foundation degree and professional qualifications or membership of their own organisation. Lessons from the prototypes. For colleges and universities, a key lesson from the first foundation degrees is to make sure that employers are involved and fully committed to the development from the start. Lack of, or diminishing, employer involvement from employers can lead to problems in recruiting students or in delivering certain parts of the course, or to concerns that the content is not meeting business needs. Employers designing their own foundation degrees should also find their partners at an early stage. It is important to draw on the expertise of colleges and universities in designing courses and qualifications, delivering degree programmes, and assuring quality and standards, from the start. Example 1 The foundation degree in Creative Digital Broadcasting is being offered through Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. It is supported by employers, a Sector Skills Council and professional bodies as well as validating HEIs. In the field of broadcasting, companies such as Carlton TV and Pearsons Television, as well as Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for Broadcast, Film, Video and Multi-Media, help to shape provision and are part of an industry and work-based learning group. A range of employers – small and medium sized businesses, large employers such as IBM and hospital trusts - and professional bodies are all supporting the foundation degree, both in its development phase and through work experience. Key questions: Which organisations should be involved? Who will validate the foundation degree? Who will provide opportunities for work-based learning opportunities and work placements? Who will deliver the academic part of the course? How will we get employer/HEI/college involvement and how do we keep them on board? Setting up and managing the partnership Successful partnerships are based on a shared agenda, careful planning, and sound communication. Although this guide does not attempt to cover the issue in depth, three aspects of partnership management are worth emphasising. Partnerships work best when every partner gets some significant benefit from their involvement, and when every partner recognises that their contribution is valued. Partnership agreements (or memorandum of co-operation) should be drawn up and agreed as early as possible. These agreements should set out the procedures for allocating funding, staffing and resources, the roles of each partner and quality issues. Formal contracts should be drawn up and signed by each partner before the partnership begins. Changes to any aspect of the foundation degree programme must be agreed by all partners. Some established foundation degree partnerships have published partnership packs and contractual documentation for their partnership agreements. One example was developed by foundation4success, and is on their website - www.lmu.ac.uk/foundation4success/institutions/institutions_key.htm If you are new to partnerships and would like an in-depth look at how to set-up a partnership successfully, the HEFCE publication 00/54, indirectly funded partnerships: codes of practice for franchise and consortia arrangements gives a lot of useful information. It is available on HEFCE’s website - www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2000/00_54.htm The Quality Assurance Agency’s (QAA’s) Code of practice contains a section on ‘collaborative provision’. It is available on QAA’s website - www.qaa.ac.uk/public/cop/cprovis/contents.htm The Council of Validating Universities (CVU) has also published a Handbook for Practitioners which gives advice and guidance on creating robust procedures and good practice for organisations in partnerships. It is published on their website - www.cvu.ac.uk/guidance/f.html Example 2: For the New Media Design foundation degree validated by Manchester Metropolitan University, a memorandum of co-operation sets out the terms and conditions of the partnership arrangement. All major decisions are taken by their Foundation Degree Steering Group, which consists of the project manager, two representatives from each of the partner institutions and representatives from industry. There are a number of sub-groups which feed into the steering group. Alongside this structure they have run a number of events such as employer meetings and curriculum design days. Key questions: What is each partner getting out of participating in the project? How will they maintain their commitment through to the end? How will the partnership be managed? Who makes decisions, and how? Are the roles and responsibilities of each partner clear? Are all the costs identified and apportioned? Has an action plan been devised, with timescales? Have all the partners formally committed themselves to the project? Getting the research right For a foundation degree to succeed, it must meet the needs of employers for employees - existing staff and future employees - with the right qualifications. It must also meet the needs of students for the knowledge, skills and understanding that employers want and which lay the foundation for future learning. Employers designing their own foundation degree will want to know that it meets future skills needs as well as current ones. [Students will want to know it offers them real prospects….] This will mean that sound research is needed. Given the wide range of students that enrol on foundation degrees, research will usually need to consider both local and national labour markets. Current courses A useful way to start might be to find out whether other similar foundation degree courses already exist. The UCAS website (www.ucas.ac.uk) has a comprehensive list of all full-time higher education courses, set out by subject and by geographical area. Information on PT-courses in not centrally held at present. Labour market intelligence and training/education projections Many employers will have their own data. In addition, a comprehensive range of labour market information is available at both national and local levels from a range of sources and much is available on the web. The following are particularly helpful: The Government’s statistics website, www.statistics.gov.uk, provides information that, amongst other things, can help to identify the likely supply of students with the necessary pre-entry skills and qualifications for any particular foundation degree. The NOMIS website on http://parus.dur.ac.uk contains a wide range of official labour market statistics. DfES has its own skills and labour market information website, www.skillsbase.dfes.gov.uk. This contains a considerable database of useful information. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) data archive contains summaries of all the research it has funded and the associated outputs back to 1985. the address is www.esrc.ac.uk One_Stop, a skills intelligence gateway managed by the Sector Skills Development Agency, is available on www.ssda.org.uk. One_Stop provides links to skills and economic information from a variety of online sources - well over 70 websites. These and other sites contain both primary, survey information that can be analysed in different ways, and secondary information from other sources that has already been synthesised and analysed. Useful primary information includes: The Labour Force Survey, a quarterly sample survey that covers around 190,000 households each year. Amongst other things, it obtains information on the qualifications of people in different occupational groups. This is available through the Government’s statistics website and NOMIS. The Annual Employment Survey, a survey of employees which gives detailed employment counts for every local area down to ward level. This is available from the Government’s statistics website and NOMIS. The General Household Survey, an annual survey of about 13,000 households. Its information includes the highest qualification by gender and socio-economic group and economic activity by age and highest qualification (by gender). This information can be seen on www.statistics.gov.uk/ssd/surveys/general_household_survey.asp; Secondary information: - available through Skillsbase includes: Skills in England Research Report 2001- This two-volume report provides an overview of the key issues and challenges facing people in delivering skills and a review of the evidence of changing skill requirements at sectoral and local level Sector Skills dialogues - a series of consultations with all major industrial and business sectors leading to the production of skills assessments for each of these broad sectors Employer Skill Surveys Projections of Occupations and Qualifications Leaning and Training and Work Education and Training Statistics for the United Kingdom Participation in Education and Training by Young People Aged 16 and 17 in Each Local Area and Region, England - available through the Government’s statistics website includes: Regional Trends, a comprehensive annual source of official statistics about life in the regions, including industrial and economic indicators Social Trends, a picture of contemporary British society, including labour market issues Labour Market Trends, a comprehensive selection of labour market statistics Example 3 The proposal for the New Media Design foundation degree in Manchester was based on sound labour market intelligence, a key research report from the Manchester Institute of Popular Culture and initial meetings with employers, employer organisations and colleges. Regional and sector plans Many regional and sector organisations make their own detailed labour market assessments, including forecasts for the near future. These are used to identify their priorities for action and help in their planning processes. Their plans and forecasts provide a good basis for assessing whether a foundation degree could be needed in a particular subject. Important sources are: information from Sector Skills Councils, which can be found on One_Stop (see above). Frameworks for Employment and Skills Action (FRESAs), which are plans agreed by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and their partners to address the skills and employment needs of the region. FRESAs can be found on RDA websites which are listed at the back of this guide. plans that are produced both nationally and locally by the Learning and Skills Council. Example 4 Teesside is home to some of the world’s largest chemical players: ICI, Dupont, BP, Amoco, Terra and Huntsman, among others. Although there is a wealth of potential for chemical technology in Teesside, companies operating in the area are continuously meeting brick walls when trying to recruit suitably qualified staff. The increased demand for young, qualified technicians needed in the industry has led to the creation of the Chemical Technology Foundation Degree at the University of Teesside. Key questions: What gap will your proposed foundation degree fill? How do you know that employers need people with your proposed foundation degree now and in the future? Who is your foundation degree aimed at – what obstacles might they face in accessing your course? How do you know that there are likely to be enough suitably qualified students to justify developing your foundation degree? Section 2: Designing the foundation degree Getting the framework right The five core features There is no single model for the foundation degree – any more than there is for an honours degree. The curriculum design and teaching methods are determined by the partners developing the course. Those experienced in designing courses will be familiar with much of this section. There are, five core features that, taken together, make a foundation degree different from other qualifications and degrees. The table below captures the current articulation of these features, although the detail in column 2 may be revised in the light of the evaluations of the prototypes and early FD programmes. 1. Employer involvement in the design and regular review of programmes to achieve recognition from employer and professional bodies both with local organisations and national sector bodies to establish demand for Fd programmes 2. The development of skills, technical and work-specific skills, relevant to the sector understanding and knowledge underpinned by rigorous and broad-based academic learning key skills in communication, team working, problem solving, application of number, use of information technology and improving own learning and performance generic skills such as reasoning and work process management should be recorded by transcript, validated by the awarding HEI and underpinned by a personal development plan 3. Application of skills in the students must demonstrate their skills in work relevant to the area of workplace study students should be given enough work experience should be sufficient to develop an understanding of the world of work and it should be validated, assessed and recorded the awarding HEIs should award credits, with exemptions for students with relevant work experience 4. Credit accumulation and foundation degrees should attract at least 240 credits, 120 at level 1 transfer and 120 at level 2 individual partnerships should agree and apply credit accumulation and transfer arrangements individual partnerships should recognise relevant prior and work- based learning by awarding credits 5. Progression – within work there must be guaranteed articulation arrangements with a least one and/or to an honours degree honours degree programmes must make clear the subsequent arrangements for progression to honours degrees and to professional qualifications or higher-level NVQs More information on the general characteristics of foundation degrees can be found in the Foundation degree: qualification benchmark produced by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in England (QAA). This acts as a reference point, showing the distinct characteristics of the foundation degree. It is available on QAA’s website: www.qaa.ac.uk/public/foundation/foundation_statement_preface.htm The design of the foundation degree Within the Framework for higher education qualifications, the foundation degree is an intermediate level qualification. (Information on the framework can be found on QAA’s website at www.qaa.ac.uk/crntwork/nqf/nqf.htm.) Units of learning There are many variations in the design and delivery of foundation degrees but most are designed around a range of modules or units. Each module allows a student to achieve certain ‘learning outcomes’. These make clear what it what it is that the student will know, understand and be able to do, on successful completion of the module(see below under ‘Content’). Students may have their own learning programmes made up of some compulsory modules and some optional ones. Example 5 Students on the Early-Years sector endorsed foundation degree can choose modules to help them work in playwork settings, or modules to help them work in early years care and education, or modules to help them work as teaching assistants. Models and examples A number of generic foundation degree models have been developed and successfully implemented. The example below was developed by the foundation4success partnership. If we look at level 1, core skills modules account for a minimum of 30 credits (unshaded). Specialist modules account for a minimum of 60 credits (shaded). A further 30 credits can be either core skills modules or specialist modules according to individual needs (part shaded). The 120 credits are delivered through a combination of academic study at college or university, and work-based learning. A minimum of 30 credits are delivered through work-based learning. Level 1 Core skills Work- Specialist skills / knowledge based learning 30 credits 30 credits 60 credits points min points min points min Level 2 Core skills Work- Specialist skills /knowledge based learning 30 credits 30 credits 60 credits points min points min points min Each of the two levels equates to a year’s full time study. The modules in year two normally require and lead to a greater depth of knowledge, understanding and ability than those in year one. Example 7 The Information and Communication Enabling Technologies foundation degree, validated by the University of Lincoln, has the following framework. Level 1 The programme consists of 10 modules of learning, each worth 12 credits. Two modules (ie 24 credits) consist of core skills. The remaining modules cover specialist skill areas. Students select the modules that best suit their career aspirations and jobs from a larger menu. Students can choose to take between one and three modules of work-based learning. Level 2 The programme consists of 10 units, each worth 12 credits. Two modules (ie 24 credits) consist of core skills. The remaining modules cover specialist skill areas. Students select the modules that best suit their career aspirations and jobs from a larger menu. Students can choose to take between one and three modules of work-based learning. Awarding bodies and other suppliers Some awarding bodies may eventually offer ready-made foundation degree qualifications for local delivery. Usually content can be varied to suit local circumstances. For example in a few years’ time Edexcel is likely to offer foundation degrees in the way that it currently offers HNDs. Some Sector Skills Councils and other sector bodies will soon be developing frameworks for foundation degrees. The frameworks will set out the learning outcomes and standards which students need to achieve to meet the needs of employers. Partnerships can then develop their courses around the framework. National employers Some major national employers may want to design their own nationally applicable foundation degree for local delivery. Some or all of the content, delivery arrangements and learning outcomes will be decided nationally. (See below for quality assurance implications). An existing framework If you want to develop a national model which can be tailored for local delivery, it might be useful to look at the Statement of Requirement for the Early Years sector-endorsed foundation degree. This is similar to a sector framework. It sets out the content and delivery that every Early Years sector foundation degree must contain to achieve recognition. It assists universities and their FE college and employer partners to design their Early Years foundation degrees so that they meet the needs of the sector. Copies can be obtained from DfES Publications, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, (tel 0845 60 555 60) quoting reference EyStatofReq Key questions to consider: What is the best design framework for your specific foundation degree? Does one already exist? How many credits should be awarded at each level? How many modules are needed? Getting the content right It is important to work out the learning outcomes you want from the start. In other words, it must be clear what students will be able to do, what they will know, and what they will understand at the end of the foundation degree course. It is in this aspect of the design that employers have a key role. If FDs are to be successful then the learning outcomes must equip students to be successful and make a valuable contribution in the workplace. Well respected employers, Sector Skills Councils, and others with a sound knowledge of employers’ requirements, can all help others to see that the learning outcomes students will achieve will meet their needs. National Occupational Standards In many sectors, National Occupational Standards have been set. They spell out what can be done by a competent employee in a particular occupation so they will help you make sure that your FD learning outcomes will equip your students to make an impact in the workplace. National Occupational Standards are developed by Sector Skills Councils and other appropriate bodies with strong employer representation. They underpin all approved vocational qualifications including National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).To find out about National Occupational Standards in a particular occupational area, contact the relevant sector officer at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). QCA’s website address is www.qca.org.uk. Example 7 The Early Years Sector-Endorsed foundation degree is designed to lead to work for senior practitioners working in Early Years settings in care and education. The learning outcomes of the foundation degree have been compiled by the sector itself. Most are taken from National Occupational Standards that underpin the relevant NVQ/SVQ qualifications, and a few new standards have been added. Other standards National Occupational Standards are not the only standards that can apply. Many occupations have other laid down criteria which employees must meet to work successfully in a given field or occupation. Example 8 When KLM UK Engineering got involved with the aircraft engineering foundation degree it was actively trying to improve its training provision. The Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) dictates certain standards for licensing engineers so KLM UK Engineering needed to be sure the training it offered met those standards. As part of the degree development team, the company was able to ensure that the course syllabus met not only industry needs and academic requirements, but also those of the JAA. Key questions to consider: What do people with foundation degrees need to be able to do in the workplace? What skills, knowledge and understanding do they need to be able to demonstrate? What recognised standards already exist? Getting the delivery right Staff in HEIS and FECs with experience in designing courses will be very familiar with most of the ideas in this section, although the work-based element of FDS and the flexible approaches to delivery may present issues if you are new to developing that type of programme. Learning and teaching Once the outcomes are clearly understood, the next step is to make sure the methods of learning and teaching are appropriate. There are four key principles: Making sure work-based and academic learning reinforce and build on each other as the programme progresses. Reinforcement is a key ingredient in running foundation degrees successfully. Providing a mix of learning and teaching methods. People and organisations delivering the course will have different approaches to learning and teaching, and students have different learning styles which need to be accommodated. Making sure that what students learn is relevant to what they do in the workplace. Giving students the opportunity to manage and shape their own learning. Example 9 Students on the Professional Photography Foundation Degree validated by the Arts Institute of Bournemouth are gaining the skills and experience they need to work in an industry largely made up of small companies and self- employed freelancers. In addition to learning about theoretical aspects,, students benefit from work experience managed by the course’s workplace co-ordinator and opportunities to work on both ‘live’ and simulated photography briefs. Online and distance learning Online and distance learning offers considerable flexibility for students, especially if they are in work or who have other commitments. Making these options available shows that a university’s or college has a commitment to these students. Online learning can: help students improve their ICT skills allow students to learn at times that suit them and their employers give students the opportunity to take part in programmes that are not based near their home help students access a range of information to support their learning, for example through the web encourage students to participate in interactive learning with other students and tutors When building in online and distance learning remember that students will have different levels of IT skills,. Their level of skills may need to be assessed and they may need specific training to address any weaknesses. And they will need access to IT facilities at convenient times so establish whether facilities may be available through an employer, or by loaning lap-top computers, or through some other means. Example 10 The new foundation degree in Business Finance and Law at Huddersfield University has been developed with the aid of local small businesses. It has been designed with flexibility in mind, enabling students to fit study into their day-to-day lives. The courses are very employer-focused and can be studied full or part time. Some do not even require students to go to college as the work can be done through the internet instead. Martin Walsh, a partner in a small architectural and civil engineering consultancy, feels that foundation degrees are perfect for small businesses like his. ‘The lectures happen outside working hours, so I don’t have to worry about employing more staff while someone is out studying.’ Work-based learning and mentors The workplace is just as important for learning as the classroom or lecture theatre. In the workplace employed students can improve their skills and knowledge without losing large amounts of their personal or working time. The learning that they do there can often involve genuine workplace problems and challenges. Line managers need to be involved so that students are able to undertake the work-based learning in ways which contribute to the business rather than disrupting it. It should be recognised that students need adequate support for their work- based learning, just as they require tutors or lecturers for academic learning. Work place mentors can fulfil that role. Mentors may be skilled and experienced colleagues, supervisors, or others, who are equipped to help students to learn and to grow. Some employers may be unfamiliar with mentoring, though. Work placements are likely to need support from the HEI or college to make sure that they are effective and that the link between work- based learning and academic learning is reinforced. Work-based learning should not be confused with work placements. A work placement can simply be a programme of work experience, and many placements do not provide opportunities for accredited learning. They may, however, contribute towards the membership requirements of a professional body or towards a licence to practice. Example 11 The foundation4success consortium defines work-based learning as “that learning which arises from reflection on experiences based on activities in the workplace. It will, in general, have negotiated outcomes relevant to the nature and purposes of the workplace and the personal and professional development of the individual. The learning achieved will include underpinning knowledge, understanding and practice and will be tailored to meet the needs of students and the workplace.” The outcomes of this work-based learning provide a basis for assessing the student’s achievements. Negotiated learning agreements (see below under ‘Programmes’ ) are drawn up for each student’s work-based learning, setting out what they have to do to achieve the outcomes. The student’s achievements are assessed by a variety of assessment activities or reflective assignments. Credits are awarded depending on how far the student has achieved the outcomes. These credits form part of the total assessment for the foundation degree. In all of the foundation degrees awarded by foundation4success, work-based learning accounts for at least 30 credit points at level 1 and 30 at level 2. Mentors are an important feature of most students’ learning programmes. Mentors are not involved in the formal assessment process but offer support and guidance when it is needed. They discuss and comment on the students’ progress and are a vital link between their employment and education. For students who are not in a suitable job, ‘industrial hosted programmes’ are used. These operate as follows: students are matched in groups of three or four to a suitable local organisation the organisation provides a business issue that the students can address and resolve this is done on a consultancy basis within the hours provided for work- based learning each student is assessed individually on the basis of their negotiated learning agreement the projects chosen normally relate to the practical application of the theory and principles covered by at least one of the modules studied on the course the project draws upon, where possible, integrated learning that has occurred on the course. Programme staff administer and assess the work-based learning element of the foundation degree. This usually consists of setting assignments to be done in the workplace, and providing tutorial support. QAA’s Code of practice (see below) contains a section on placement learning. It is available on QAA’s website at www.qaa.ac.uk/copplacementfinal/foreword.htm Example 12 The New Media Design Foundation Degree in Manchester is delivered through seminars, lectures, group tutorials, project and work-based learning. Employers are directly involved in the learning. For example, multi-disciplinary teams are used in work-based ‘live’ industry projects, set and assessed by established practitioners alongside course tutors. Academic tutors Given that a proportion of the learning will take place away from the HEI or college, contact between students and academic tutors needs to be given particular attention. There must be arrangements to give students adequate access to tutors at suitable times and in a variety of ways. Peer group support Students gain considerable insights from each other, and mutual support can be invaluable, especially in difficult times. E-mail communication, video- conferencing, formal and informal meetings can all be used to good effect. Teaching staff The emphasis on work-based and work-related learning means that teaching staff need an appropriate awareness, understanding and experience if they are to meet students’ needs. The organisations involved in the first foundation degrees have found that, as well as a general awareness of HE and experience in delivering HE programmes, it helps if staff have recent, relevant experience in industry. This can mean work in the relevant sector or close working relationships with employers, professional bodies or Sector Skills Councils through consultancy or other relevant activities. Other key experience includes work-based learning at any level, such as NVQs; developing individual learning agreements for students; and an appreciation of the local and regional plans outlined in Section 2 above. Example 13 As part of their research, London College of Printing received a clear message from employers and their representatives that graduates needed to ‘hit the ground running’. They saw straight away that academic staff needed to be fully up to date with the needs of their industry. In tandem, a team of staff was needed that could help students develop enterprise skills and ensure they were properly prepared for work-based learning. This meant investing in staff development to bring subject-based staff up to date. It also meant a number of new staff needed to be recruited straight from industry. These new staff needed time and help to adjust to academic life and the learning needs of students. A range of training and development methods were used such as awaydays and workshop sessions. These involved experienced educationalists and the newer staff, to ensure an integrated approach. The design and development of the FdA and the associated materials and teaching methods has involved significant investment in time and teamwork. The result has been to create staff teams with individuals drawn from study support, industry and undergraduate courses. London College of Printing now offers 12 FdA courses in a diverse range of subjects including retail, travel and tourism, and print media and publishing. Key questions for you to consider: What learning and teaching methods are needed for students to develop the full range of skills, understanding and knowledge? What range of methods can be used to give students enough options and fit a range of student circumstances? How well integrated are the skills and academic elements? To what extent are the skills and knowledge developed and applied in a work context? Ho far does the programme allow the student to direct and manage their own learning, reflect on the progress made and adapt their learning plan as necessary? Is their enough support for students? Who are the right staff and what staff development is needed? Section 3: Maximising students’ achievement: Getting the entry requirements right The target group Foundation degrees are designed to both widen and increase participation. They may be particularly attractive for people who have qualifications other than A levels, for mature students and for students in employment but these are not the only possible target audiences. A level students may be attracted by the ‘earn and learn’ approach offered by PT FDs, or may be aiming at higher technical or associate professional employment. Some people with few formal qualifications may be able to demonstrate their potential to succeed on a foundation degree through their existing knowledge and experience,.. Example 14 The Early Years Sector–Endorsed foundation degree is intended for people who are: qualified to NVQ level 3 or equivalent in a relevant job strongly motivated to achieve senior practitioner level and, for some, Qualified Teacher Status. Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) and credit for previous study Where students have evidence of relevant existing skills and knowledge credit can be given for this, which may shorten the period of time needed to obtain the fd qualification, and help focus their programme of study specifically on new learning. Effective APEL and credit awarding systems depend on: a proper understanding of the learning outcomes from the foundation degree an accurate understanding of the skills, qualifications and abilities ‘typical’ students will bring, and the evidence that they can supply to back up their claims an understanding of how the two relate to each other. Example 15 There are a number of different routes for potential students for the Health Care foundation degree at Southampton University to join the course. These include Access courses, BTEC courses, Academic and Vocational A Levels. Accreditation for prior learning is another accepted route particularly for mature students. There are well established APEL and other credit policies at the University of Southampton with clear criteria offering both generic and specific APEL. The partnership has developed these more fully to meet the particular needs of foundation degree students. Key questions to consider: What sort of people are you hoping to attract? What educational background and work experience are they likely to have? How might this overlap with the learning outcomes and learning programmes for your foundation degree? What are the range of ways students can demonstrate their potential to study for your foundation degree? What level of credit is appropriate for different types of prior experience or study? How could the foundation degree programme be adapted to reflect existing understanding, knowledge and ability that some students might bring? Getting the programme right Much of this section will be familiar to those experienced in course design, although the employment related dimension and the fact the FDs are intermediate level qualifications may raise issues for those used to the full-time honours environment. Learning contracts Once enrolled, students need to understand what they can expect. A learning contract is a useful way of setting out what has been agreed between the student and the course provider. Learning contracts have a number of benefits, including: helping students to develop a greater sense of ownership of their studies and clarify their learning goals helping to clarify the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved A learning contract typically sets down: the learning outcomes or goals the methods for meeting these outcomes or goals the resources being made available, including for example time off for study, library facilities and access to tutors how achievement of these objectives will be assessed the level of credit being sought and awarded. The learning contract can then be used to inform the Progress file and transcript (see below). Employer contact Early experience shows that it is important that students are given contact with employers throughout the course. Some students may not understand the relevance of some aspects of the course, and continuous contact with employers gives them a way to address their concerns. Assessment It is generally recognised that assessment can serve different purposes: diagnostic, which considers the student’s aptitude and preparedness for study formative , which assesses the student’s progress and informs their development summative, which identifies how far they have achieved the learning outcomes. Different techniques are used for different purposes and a variety of formal and informal techniques are likely to be used across an FD course. Example 16 Assessment for Southampton University’s Health Care foundation degree includes exams, report writing, a health promotion project and a health care skills inventory. The methods of assessment should be set out and agreed when the the foundation degree is validated. Assessment of work based learning Early lessons point to the need to ensure that assessment of work-based learning is fully integrated into the course and is not seen as a ‘bolt-on’ – it must be educationally valuable to the student and seen as productive by the employer. Assessment of work-based learning can distinguish between assessing the student’s capability (which includes their underpinning knowledge and understanding, and development of personal skills and relevant qualities) and their actual performance (which includes the skills and qualities they demonstrate in practice). Evidence of capability can be obtained through, for example: observation, questioning and viva examination traditional examinations assignments based on case studies projects log books and portfolios. Evidence of performance can be obtained through, for example: direct or indirect observation, sometimes with questioning simulation or role play reports, surveys, drawings etc generated through normal work reflective reports log books and portfolios reports by employers. The emphasis on work-based learning provides an opportunity to ensure that providers and employers both take part in the assessment. Employers’ concerns about confidentiality of their products or processes need to be understood at the start, and it is often useful to agree with the employer in advance the nature of the work-based assessment, and record it in a learning contract. The QAA Code of practice (see below) contains a section on assessing students. It is available on QAAs website: www.qaa.ac.uk/copaos/final/intro.htm Example 17 On the Information and Communication Enabling Technologies foundation Degree in Lincoln, there is an element of self and peer assessment to encourage students to take increasing responsibility for the learning process in preparation for their future as independent designers. Key questions to consider: Does the framework provide for contact between students and employers throughout the course? Is it clear who is assessing what, when, where, how and why? Are employers involved in the work-based assessment where appropriate? Are they appropriately trained and qualified? Is the assessment consistent and appropriate to the level of the award? Is everyone equipped to carry out the assessments, or is training needed? Are there appeals procedures and mechanisms to resolve disputes, and are they clearly spelt out? Recording achievement Recording achievement builds on the assessment process and is an important aspect of the foundation degree. Progress Files are a valuable way of describing, measuring and recording achievement. They contain two elements: a transcript: this is a record of a student’s learning and achievement, and helps them to monitor their own progress while they are studying; the individual’s personal records of learning, such as progress reviews, statements from tutors and CVs. These two elements provide the cornerstones for Personal Development Planning, a structured process in which the student reflects on their own learning, performance and achievement and plans their future development. Progression to honours degrees Foundation degrees are a qualification in their own right but a key aim is that they encourage lifelong learning. Holders of foundation degrees may chose to progress their learning in a variety of ways and over different timescales, possibly seeking professional accreditation or further vocational or academic qualifications. Progression routes to honours degrees need to be established for those that chose this path, and they are an important feature of every foundation degree. Example 18 Students graduating from the Health Care foundation degree at Southampton have the opportunity to progress to: BN (Hons) BSc (Hons) in Podiatry BA (Hons) in Health and Social Care Management The honours degree programme in nursing can be completed in two years and within this period students will also complete a professional qualification in one of the other branches of nursing. The current framework requires that foundation degrees should have 240 credits of learning of which 120 will be at the second HE level. Students who successfully complete a foundation degree will normally be well placed to progress to the final level of the honours degree programme. Even so, the balance between academic skills, and practical vocational skills and assessment of work-based learning in a foundation degree, may mean that students need a bridging course to strengthen the academic, research related skills called for in the final level of an honours course. Example 19 Leeds Metropolitan University plans that students who have successfully completed the FdSc Health-related Exercise and Fitness will be able to progress onto either BA (Hons) Leisure and Sport Management or BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Exercise and Health, following a short ‘bridging’ activity. The bridging activity is a Research Methods module which will prepare students for their honours degree project. Key questions to consider: What honours degrees do employers in the sector look for? What progression opportunities need to be set up? Does the foundation degree need to contribute towards achieving a licence to practice or another professional requirement? If so, how will it do this? Do foundation degree graduates have the academic knowledge and understanding to progress to a relevant honours degree? Will they need a bridging mechanism? Will some foundation degree graduates need a top-up in some subject areas? Section 4: Quality assurance: getting the process right The basic principles All partners have some responsibility for managing quality. The individual HEI validates the award and therefore has the main responsibility for its quality and standards - all HEIs have well established quality assurance procedures. The FE college and other partners have responsibility for the quality of the learning and teaching on their sites. FE colleges should also have their own quality assurance processes. Sometimes FE colleges and other partners will agree to adopt the procedures of the HEI. The HEI’s procedures may need adapting to suit a consortium approach or the circumstances of a foundation degree. Whatever arrangements are put in place, it is vital that they are fully understood and owned by everyone involved and that everyone sticks to them. A sound approach to quality assurance fulfils three key purposes: it provides information to people involved in any aspect of the design and delivery of the foundation degree so they know what standards are expected in their programme it provides evidence for HEFCE’s and QAA’s monitoring procedures it provides reassurance and information to prospective students, employers and other ‘end users’. Example 20 The foundation4success consortium has set out its approach to quality assurance in Quality Assurance Documentation for the Foundation Degrees Initiative. Quality assurance focuses on three distinct levels: the consortium (three partner universities) the interface between the consortium and the three partner universities the interface between the three universities and the foundation degrees they offer, within the scope of the consortium (including the procedures for assuring the quality of the links with other partners, such as FE colleges and employers). Evidence of Impact HEI quality assurance arrangements are generally designed to ensure that academic standards are met and that graduates have achieved the learning outcomes. In some aspect of HE work such as teachers’ professional development HEIs have been developing approaches that go beyond their customary assurance of quality. They seek to gather evidence of the impact that students’ engagement with the course has had in their workplace. Developers of employment-based FDs may wish to develop similar approaches. National employers, Sector frameworks and other national models Some foundation degrees are designed nationally. The national models and frameworks are designed by organisations such as national employers, Sector Skills Councils and awarding bodies. Often there is some flexibility in content so that there are local variations of a national core model. Arrangements are then put in place to deliver the foundation degree in different locations. The Early-Years sector endorsed foundation degree, for example, is delivered by many different colleges. The sector frameworks are another example. The organisation that has designed the foundation degree will want to know that local arrangements are satisfactory and that the quality is consistent wherever it is delivered. They may put in place their own quality assurance arrangements so that they can see there is consistency. These quality assurance arrangements will be in addition to arrangements put in place locally by the colleges, universities and employers involved in delivering the foundation degree locally. Edexcel, for example, has quality assurance procedures to ensure that all HNDs meet certain minimum standards. External examiners External examiners play an important role in any HEI’s quality assurance process. They are appointed by the HEIs and act as independent and impartial advisers. They provide institutions with informed comment on: the standards set for awarding the qualification the levels of performance students achieve assessment processes They also advise on how the standard of the degree compares with those run elsewhere.. For external examiners involved in foundation degrees, previous experience with work-based programmes is extremely useful. More information can be found in the relevant section in QAA’s Code of practice, available at www.qaa.ac.uk/public/cop/copee/foreword.htm QAA Code of practice The Quality Assurance Agency looks at the quality of provision in universities and other providers of HE. They do this through audits and reviews at subject level. In particular, they look at the way the institution manages quality and standards of provision. QAA publishes a ‘Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education’. This code currently contains ten different sections, each covering a different subject - for example collaborative provision, external examining, assessment of students, placement learning, and programme approval, monitoring and review. Each section is structured into a series of precepts/key issues, and guidance. The QAA checks to see that the institution’s own quality assurance mechanisms are addressing the precepts effectively. You can look at the code on QAA’s website at www.qaa.ac.uk/public/cop/codesofpractice.htm Example 21 Manchester Metropolitan University has worked with all partners involved in the foundation degree for some time and the university’s quality assurance arrangements are well established, comprehensive and rigorous. The quality systems include: regular, recorded course team meetings with student representation meetings of the partnership committee student surveys annual monitoring reviews internal moderation and standardisation external examiners Key questions to consider: What are your organisation’s responsibilities? What are your organisation’s quality assurance procedures? How do they work? How are you going to demonstrate that you have fulfilled them? Who should be appointed as external examiners? Section 5: Funding and finance There will be costs associated with development and validation of an FD course in addition to running costs. Running costs include tuition and assessment costs and quality assurance arrangements. Students will generally make some contribution to these costs Financing partnerships and funding programme development As with any degree, the costs of development are primarily the responsibility of the partners who will benefit. They are shared amongst them on an agreed basis. The cost of developing a foundation degree will depend on the complexity of the partnership, the relative experience of the providers in developing similar provision, their starting point, and the different economies of scale open to different sizes of provider. Different validating bodies have different approaches to charging so validation costs may vary depending on the validation partner chosen. The White Paper The future of higher education announced that a further £30m is being made available to help promote and develop more foundation degrees up to 2006. Some of this money will support the Foundation Degree Forward arrangements referred to in sectionX . The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is responsible for distributing funding to providers to support course development. Contact HEFCE for further details. Some development projects are also being undertaken with employers, with funding support from the Department. Financing tuition Partners Funding for delivering foundation degrees is normally provided by HEFCE. The funding goes directly to HE institutions and, in some circumstances, further education colleges. HEIs and colleges can then disburse their funds amongst the partners to help with their costs. Students Part-time students have always contributed to the cost of their tuition. Since 1998 full-time students starting higher education have had to contribute towards their tuition fees. Full-time students may get some or all of their tuition fees paid, depending on their circumstances. Some part-time students also get their fees paid for them through their college, depending on their income. The White Paper The future of higher education announced proposed changes to the system of student finance and student support. It also announced plans to introduce bursaries in 2004-5 for people studying for foundation degrees. There is up to date information on financial support for students on the DfES website www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport. Be alert to the changes in the student support environment as you plan beyond 2004-05 Employers, of course, may wish to offer their employees help with tuition costs. Career Development Loans may be appropriate for some students and some courses. Career Development Loans are deferred repayment bank loans - the Government pays the interest while you are learning and for up to a month afterwards. Information can be found on www.lifelonglearning.dfes.gov.uk/cdl A range of other help is also explained in the booklet Money to Learn available on the same website. Directory of useful contacts Foundation degree website www.foundationdegree.org.uk The DfES resource for information on foundation degrees. Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) www.ssda.org.uk The SSDA website contains information and contact details for the new Sector Skills Councils. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) www.qaa.ac.uk QAA promotes the quality of provision in UK higher education. The site contains good up-to-date information on the national qualifications framework and the foundation degree benchmark statement. UCAS www.ucas.ac.uk UCAS is the UK central organisation which processes applications for entry to full-time HE courses. The UCAS site also gives details of current HE qualifications. Learning and Skills Council www.lsc.gov.uk The LSC is responsible for funding and planning non-HE education and training for everyone aged over 16 in England. Life long learning www.lifelonglearning.dfes.gov.uk A website with information about learning for adults and detailed information on how to finance learning Qualifications and Curriculum Authority www.qca.org.ac QCA is a guardian of standards in education and training in England. It works with others to maintain and develop the school curriculum and to accredit and monitor qualifications in schools, colleges and at work. Regional Development Agencies Regional Development Agencies have been established to improve economic development and regeneration; promote business efficiency, investment and competitiveness; promote employment; advance development of application of skill relevant to employment; and contribute to sustainable development. They can provide help and advice relevant to the region and, in some cases, help with funding. There are nine RDAs in England, as follows. One North East http://www.onenortheast.co.uk/ North West Development Agency http://www.nwda.co.uk Yorkshire Forward http://www.yorkshire-forward.com/ East Midlands Development Agency http://www.emda.org.uk/ Advantage West Midlands http://www.advantagewm.co.uk East of England Development Agency http://www.eeda.org.uk South East of England Development Agency http://www.seeda.co.uk South West of England Regional Development Agency http://www.southwestrda.org.uk London Development Agency http://www.lda.gov.uk Higher Education and Research Opportunities www.hero.ac.uk HERO is the official gateway to UK universities, colleges and research organisations. DfES student support www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport A website for students who want to find out about financial support Higher Education Funding Council for England www.hefce.ac.uk (HEFCE) HEFCE distributes funding for higher education in England. The site includes information on partnerships including good practice.