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Overview of foundation degrees at the OU

Presentation by Steve Hutchinson at FELS foundation degrees workshop, 15th Jan 08

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Gráinne Conole
15 January 2009

Steve Hutchinson is former director of the PBPL CETL - more information available from Steve talked about a review of foundation degrees and in particular work-based, practice-based learning.




  • PBPL  - a federation of four faculties which aims to codify, enhance and expand work/pracice-based learning opportuniites. 
  • PBPL saw in particular the benefit of setting up a network of people with common interests, and hence set up a SIG for work-based learning courses and to do an audit of good pedagogy across these. 



University-wider review of FD

  1. Began by looking back at the Leitch 2006 report (!eaLiXgk). UK in a weak skills/knowledge position. Need to be improved by 2020 in order to minimise poverty and inequality. All levels of education need to be improved by 2020. In particular L4 from 29% to 40%. FDs mentioned 9 times in the report.  
  2. Lots of potential opportunities in terms of developing FDs. Over 70% of 2020 workforce have left full-time education, over 50% in 2020 are over 25. No of FDs set to increase from 70K to 100K, 40% of FR students are P/T (2007/8). 
  3. However these is a lack of employer/employee awareness, worries about raising expectations (and salaries?), perception of value of this qualifications, also sector turf wars.
  4. Some specific approaches worth exploring: Sector specific not subject specific intelligence is required and generic 'top-up's to honours might be attractive and worthy of further exploration. 
  5. Investment in learning and teaching: ensuring advance in open learning are integrated in work-based learning courses, ensuring that the employer voice is integral to course design, production and in presentation. 
  6. These means there is a need for real detailed market intelligence. 
  7. Key issues - how do we move towards the development of new curricula in this area and how do we ensure we have the right people with the right skills to develop these new programmes
  8. Sharing innovative ideas: turbo-charged FDs - matching time-scales to student interests/linking more closely to work-practice, live briefs - working in a highly distributed sector, personalised/open FD and integrating APEL.  
  9. Need to develop existing systems - approvals, award-based services and flexible, materials re-versioning and competitive APEL process.
  10. Investment in networks - academic and academic related pan-university networks and administration networks.


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