HE in FE Newsletter February 2012

  • Publication Date: 24-02-2012

Welcome to the February HE in FE Briefing

Our aim is to provide an informative term-time briefing for colleagues engaged in the management and delivery of higher education in further education colleges as well as other stakeholders. We also hope to draw your attention to sector events of national and local interest.

We warmly welcome your contribution of any news or events for future issues – particularly regional events – which you wish to promote – or any examples of success, good practice or resources which you would like to share with others in our sector.

Deadline for copy: last Friday of month prior to the month of publication. We usually aim to circulate the briefing in the second week of the month.

Please send details to: heinfe@heacademy.ac.uk

Please post this briefing on your internal mail system for colleagues to share, or download it in pdf document format from our website.

HEA news

Bradford College leads the way for HE in FE as an HEA subscriber

Barry Miller, Strategic Advisor/TDAP Lead, Bradford College:

Bradford College is proud to be the first non-HEI to become a subscriber to the Higher Education Academy. Since 1832 the College has been engaged in the development and delivery of education. The vision and ethos of Bradford College is demonstrated by the opportunities for progression from entry level to masters and by our widening participation to raise the aspirations of the people of Bradford.

Bradford College offers a wide range of further and higher education courses to approximately 20,000 students. The College’s higher education provision is the result of five mergers between local colleges specialising in education, art and design and technical education. This provision caters for the academic and professional development needs of some 4,000 HE students each year, including around 500 from overseas. The College has been a provider of higher education for almost 40 years and has recently completed the final stages of scrutiny for Taught Degree Awarding Powers.

The College is committed to broadening educational opportunities for underrepresented groups and has well-established delivery systems designed to support students throughout their programmes of study. Approximately 60% of the College’s undergraduate students come from widening participation backgrounds.

We believe that membership of the HEA will lead to general benefits in terms of resources such as publications and events. More specifically we note the expertise that is available in discipline areas and we look forward to participating in collaborations with, for example, the art and design subject area which is of importance to our School of Art.

Ronan O’Beirne, Director of Learning Development and Research, added, “We hope to gain support for our scholarly activity and research agenda which is active in supporting teaching, learning and assessment. Typically our research topics can be discipline-specific teaching and learning research or generic pedagogical research which in turn may provide an interdisciplinary dimension. Our research, which is aligned to our overall strategic direction, provides benefit to practice and informs curriculum development and pedagogical policy. Our annual research conference provides the opportunity for staff to disseminate their research findings and to consider benefits of taking that research into practice.”

The College is also excited about the opportunity to encourage staff to gain professional recognition, via the HEA’s accreditation process, for the work in which they are currently involved. This aspect is a key driver and a response to staff’s enthusiasm to gain the status and respect they deserve.

Enquiries about institution subscriptions should be made to andy.jackson@heacademy.ac.uk


New HEA scholarly activity and research skills workshops

Research and scholarly activity play an integral role in the emerging HE ethos in FE colleges. Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review (IQER), HE strategies and foundation degree awarding powers (FDAP) has led to a greater emphasis been placed upon the opportunities for staff to engage with scholarly activity. Over the past three years Dr Angus Carpenter (City College Norwich) and Dr Becky Turner (Plymouth University), on behalf of the HEA, have supported a series of research and scholarly activity workshops to raise the profile of these activities to the sector. Building on the success of these previous events, we have developed a new programme to provide HE in FE professionals with an introduction to the knowledge and skills associated with research and scholarly activity. Through a series of practical activities, guest speakers and case studies, we will collectively consider the contribution research can make to the college environment, particularly in terms of enhancing practice and policy.

This workshop will address the following areas:

  • developing funding applications;
  • research design;
  • research impact;
  • dissemination.

Dates and venues:

2 March 2012 – City & Islington College, London

30 March 2012 – Bradford College

30 May 2012 - Warwickshire College

You are advised to book early as places are limited and these have proven to be popular and valuable events, as the feedback below indicates:

Feedback from past events demonstrates that 81% of participants reported extremely positive experiences, with comments such as those presented below indicating the contribution these events made to individual and institutional practice:

“On the whole a thought-provoking day, with some good experiences from colleagues working within FE.” (HE in FE lecturer)

“A very useful event which I think will have both personal and institutional impact” (HE manager)

“It told me to value my existing practice.” (HE in FE lecturer)


HEA Change Programmes

The HEA has been working with higher education institutions on strategic change since we developed and delivered the first Change Academy programme in 2004 in partnership with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. We have run Change Academy every year since then and have recently expanded our offering to include programmes focused on priority themes such as assessment and feedback, student engagement and education for sustainable development. Almost 200 teams from over 100 institutions, including a number of FE colleges, have taken part in HEA change programmes over the last eight years.

This experience, combined with the HEA’s role as a knowledge broker in the UK higher education sector, puts us in a unique position to help your institution develop its capacity for strategic change. Our change programmes are based on a model of ‘explore, challenge and apply’, bringing together cross-institutional teams and giving them time and space to think creatively and develop a workable and sustainable change initiative. This is a unique, high quality process for professional learning which provides tools and approaches that can be cascaded more widely across your institution, supporting both rapid innovation and capacity-building for longer-term change.

Each change programme begins with a meeting for team leaders to support leadership and team development. This is followed by a residential event providing a creative, challenging and supportive environment in which teams can plan and shape their initiatives. The programme concludes with a final meeting for team leaders to share experience and develop plans for embedding and sustaining change. Throughout the programme, teams have access to expert consultants and ongoing support from the HEA.

Feedback from participating teams tells us that our change programmes have had a significant impact both on the teaching and learning experience of students and on the participants themselves:

  • “Change Academy has been a highlight for me this academic year and I’m looking forward to going back to the University to put in place many of the things we’ve agreed we’ll do over the next six months to a year.”
  • “A vision that was created by a couple of people has now been shared across the team who are now motivated and enthused, and have developed an outcome which I think will really transform the way our University develops in the future.”
  • "I don’t think we’d have actually been able to get to the stage that we’ve reached had it not been for Change Academy.”

To find out more and apply to participate in one of our change programmes, visit the HEA Change Programmes web pages.


Sector News

HEFCE decisions on funding for higher education 2012-13

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced its funding decisions for higher education in England on February 1 following the annual grant letter from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and subsequent decisions by the HEFCE Board.

Teaching funding for students who entered higher education before 2012-13 will continue in broadly the same way as for the current academic year. New funding arrangements for universities and colleges will begin for the new intake of students in 2012-13. HEFCE funding for teaching will start to decrease and universities and colleges will be more dependent on funding from tuition fees from publicly funded student loans, with no requirement for students to pay up-front.

HEFCE funding will support high-cost subjects (price groups A and B), however funding will not be allocated for students in all other price groups (C and D).


Student number controls

Institutions were recently informed of their provisional student number control limits following the bidding process for the 20,000 ‘margin’. HEFCE expect to finalise the student number limits at the end of February on completion of the appeals process.

BIS continues to require HEFCE to play its part in the close control of student support costs. HEFCE will therefore adjust grants to HEIs at a rate of £3,800 per full-time undergraduate where there has been over-recruitment in 2011-12. The rate for over-recruitment in 2012-13 has not yet been announced, but universities and colleges should expect this to be at a level that represents a financial disincentive to over-recruit.

See the HEFCE website for full details of the announcements and breakdown of allocations and rates 

See also the BIS website for the annual grant letter from BIS to HEFCE.


FE colleges to win over half of ‘core and margin’ places –Times HE News

Further education colleges are set to receive more student places from the price-based “margin” than universities after the initial allocations were revealed by the government.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has told 143 further education colleges that it intends to give them more than 9,500 places from the pool of 20,000 set aside for institutions charging average tuition fees next year of £7,500 or less.

Read the full article in the Times Higher Education magazine.


FE college/HE institution partnership checklist (Mixed Economy Group / Learning and Skills Improvement Service)

The Government's reform plans for both further and higher education encourage FE and skills providers to consider extending or establishing their own HE provision.

MEG has produced a checklist for colleges working in partnership with universities. This handy document will help you through the process of choosing a validation partner if you have been awarded some directly-funded numbers from HEFCE as a result of the recent Core and Margin exercise. If you are about to enter a new indirect funding arrangement, it can also offer some help on the sort of questions that you need to ask both your senior management team and your proposed HE partner. The document was produced in conjunction with LSIS and can be found on the LSIS website or from the MEG website.


Applications to HE show another fall

Applications considered on time for the UCAS 15 January deadline show another fall with applications from UK 18 year olds down by 3.6%, although the largest domestic fall is among the mature student population.

  • Total applicant numbers at this stage of the cycle are 7.4% lower than at the same point in 2011.
  • The number of applicants from the UK has decreased by 8.7% overall. Applicants have decreased from all UK countries: England (-9.9%), Northern Ireland (-4.4%), Scotland (-1.5%) and Wales (-1.9%).
  • The number of UK 18-year-old applicants (the largest single group) has decreased by 3.6 per cent compared to 2011, representing a drop of just under 8,500 people.
  • Applicants from EU countries have decreased (by 11.2%) but there has been an increase in applicants from outside the EU of 13.7%.
  • Applications have decreased to institutions located in England (-8.5%) and Wales (-9.3%) but are nearly unchanged in Northern Ireland (+0.1%) and Scotland (+0.2%).
  • Applications from men have decreased more (-8.5%) than from women (-6.7%).
  • Applications from older age ranges have decreased more than the school leaver cohort.

Full applications data reported for applications considered on time for 15 January deadline are available at the UCAS website.

Commenting on the latest UCAS application figures, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“The proportion of English school leavers applying to university today is greater than ever before, barring last year. It is encouraging that applications from people from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds remain strong, with only a 0.2 per cent decrease.”

“Over 250,000 18 year olds have already applied to university. The UK 18-year old population peaked in 2009. It has fallen by 9,000 this year so we cannot expect continued growth in actual applications. However, the application rate which allows for changes in the population has held up with only a 1% drop.”

Read the Minister’s statement in full.

‘Alarm over Student application figures’ – Guardian article.


College of Law sale enters crucial stage - Times Higher Education magazine

The potential takeover of a private higher education college with degree-awarding powers has entered a crucial stage, with education giant Pearson reportedly the front-runner to secure the deal.

Read the full THE article.


HEA scholarly activity and research skills workshop

See item in main text above for description

2 March 2012 – City & Islington College, London

30 March 2012 – Bradford College

30 May 2012 – Warwickshire College


HEA workshop for FE colleges delivering higher education: Engaging with the UKPSF and the HEA’s professional recognition opportunities

Suitable for Deans, Managers and Directors of higher education and other staff with responsibility for developing staff and the quality of higher education provision in FECs

19 March 2012 – Wakefield College

Further information and bookings.


Collaboration in the new HE landscape - AoC, UUK and GuildHE

1 March 2012, Woburn House, London; 10:00am – 4pm

Further information and bookings.


The future of education-employer partnerships: Creating closer ties between colleges, universities & businesses (Westminster Briefing)

7 March 2012, Westminster, London; 10.40am - 3.15pm

Details and booking.


Improving graduate employability: Responding to the needs of students and employers (Westminster Briefing)

27 March 2012, Westminster, London; 10.40am - 3.15pm

Details and Booking.


What works? Student retention and success conference 2012

28-29 March 2012, York University

The two-day conference will take a research-informed approach to answering the question 'what works' to improve student retention and success in higher education

Further information and booking.


Association of Colleges annual HE in FE conference 2012

29 March 2012, Holiday Inn, Kings Cross London

This well established one-day conference will explore the significant changes higher education is undergoing particularly the challenges faced by Colleges as they seek to ensure more people can benefit from local, flexible and affordable HE. Workshops will include presentations on the information needs of the new market, the emerging regulatory framework, funding HE teaching, external quality assurance, and higher level skills policy. This event will identify the key policy characteristics of the emerging HE market, provide an opportunity for delegates to discuss with fellow HE in FE senior post holders the implications of the emerging market, and provide an opportunity for AoC to explain its HE in FE policy positions.

Further information and booking.


'Future Directions' conference - Graduates for our future

26 April 2012: Glynd┼Ár University in Wrexham.

Wales’ first national learning and teaching conference

Further comment, details and booking.


Degrees for the future: A new way of providing higher education (Westminster Briefing)

2 May 2012, Westminster, London; 10.40am - 3.15pm

Further information and booking.