An interesting and enlightening discussion with thought-provoking contributions from a diverse group of representatives from FE and HE organisations. Alice Barnard of the Edge Foundation provided a great deal of constructive commentary regarding the wider issues facing the sector as well as observations about its future and actions that could and should be considered in seeking to establish an “even playing field” in order to help meet the needs of those accessing as well as providing education and training. Despite the refreshing candour of the discussion, it was concerning that the conversation was all too often a University and FE focussed dialogue. Although there was a reference to the need for more Level 4 and Level 5 qualifications and courses as part of a broad offer including apprenticeships and T-quals, there was a noticeable absence of commentary regarding the existing alternative HE pathways that are Advanced Learner Loan recognised.
Some key points that were made by the participants included:
- L4 and L5 Technicians and skills being what UK PLC needs.
- Data and Gap Analysis is needed to show where demand is (in readiness and to respond to the 4th industrial revolution i.e. automation, robotics…. and the associated impact on jobs).
- Introduction of compressed degrees.
- The need for flexible HE routes as a means of helping to improve accessibility for disadvantaged learners. There was within the related Q+A, specific reference to part-time study, earn while you learn, distance learning, Stop/Start delivery and modularised HE.
- The economic imperative associated with the need for a skill and knowledge-based curriculum, not just a knowledge-based / academic HE curriculum.
- Employers want employees with skills including team building, collaboration, creativity, innovation, numeracy… a component of the service offering we need in order for UK PLC to remain competitive in a global economy.
One statistic quoted, referred to 45% of graduates not entering graduate level employment when they left university. There remain many questions to be asked as to the true value to the often lorded graduate premium, a “premium” which students access through paying £9,250 per year fees for traditional three year undergraduate programmes, a debt that is often unpaid due to the limited earnings of many graduates; a debt that sits on the books of Government, paid for by the taxpayer.
There are cost-effective, flexible. Advanced learner Loan fundable HE qualification available; alternatives to the traditional degree route, namely Qualifi Awarding Organisation Level 4,5,6,7 and 8 Vocationally Related Qualifications with final year honours degree Top Up and Masters options for those seeking a UK University degree.
Please visit the Qualifi website for further information – http://qualifi.net/university-pathways/