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Event Report: HE in FE Strategies

Delegates at HE in FE Event

20 November 2009, HEFCE

“A well organised event which provided very focused and interesting discussions.”
“Very practical guidance… useful input from JISC RSC colleagues.”
“Good opportunity to share, compare and discuss practical issues with others in a similar situation.”
“The best HE in FE strategy event I have been to so far.”

Overview

Following HEFCE’s request for HE in FE strategies to be submitted by January 2010, this event was held to support providers of Higher Education within Further Education colleges that are currently engaged with writing or finalising their institutional strategy.

The session was facilitated by Sue Parker, JISC RSC London Associate Adviser, and was kept informal in tone and encouraged the sharing of views and asking questions.

The event was based around two presentations given by City of Westminster College and Ealing Hammersmith and West London College. Sue Parker set the scene for HEFCE’s strategy call as being one of recognition that HE in FE needs to be aligned to other key elements of institutional planning, such as widening participation, employer engagement, quality frameworks and processes.

Where providers are at with their HE in FE strategies:

Of the eleven providers represented at the event, nine said they were still in the process of writing their strategies.

City of Westminster College - Brian Giddings

City of Westminster College presentation – Brian Giddings

Brian Giddings Presentation

Brian Giddings outlined the college’s background and current situation with HE in FE provision:
4 faculties at present, 3 giving HE provision - Engineering, Sport and Media - at various sites across London at FdA, HNC and BSc level. Factors in the institutional landscape: new principal, new building, projected 15% student growth in FdAs. Wider context is affected by a changed situation with employers, the securing of Equal Level Qualifications (ELQs) and Additional Student Numbers.

The process of writing the strategy included identifying key institutional questions and objectives. Completing IQER, evidencing numbers on progression, ethnicity, etc all helped with this. Research on documents outside college for evidence to back up business plans also contributed. A ghost writer was hired to write the strategy based on informed objectives.
The strategy closely links in with other college documents.

A key discussion ensued around action planning follow on from the strategy development. This is highly recommended: CWC's action plan is faculty specific, mixing optimism with challenging targets whilst consolidating existing provision.

Ealing Hammersmith and West London College – Lena Read

Lena Read - Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College

Lena Read's Presentation

Ealing Hammersmith and West London College presentation
EHWLC context: Doubled numbers in last year 170 directly funded; PGCE; 800 level 4 and above international; level 4 professional studies.  Their strategic journey: first HE strategy 2005; 2008 HEFCE strategy pilot involvement – QAA/HEFCE feedback informed institutional strategy formation.
Key tools for writing strategy:
·    HEFCE strategy call, annexes; Good practice for writing (see links below)
·    Institutional strategies
·    Sub-regional strategy West London Colleges
As a starting point HEFCE Annex B lists desired strategy content
EHWLC has inked strategic aims of college into the HE strategy, bringing to bear historical perspective and objectives from 2005 – now. Targets wanted are SMART rather than aspirational. Institution also considered issues such as standards, quality and higher skills needed for HE delivery. Strategic management structure reviewed within college.
Recruitment, retention and progression into and through HE – institutions must clearly know the target audience for HE and actively look at how under-represented groups can be approached. Equality of student experience between HE the equivalence in FE is a key issue as is the institutional relationship with the affiliated HEIs and other wider networks. IQER questions the equivalence and processes internally.
Pedagogic delivery: bear in mind blended and distance learning, and the impact of validation for these programmes will have for college management.
Staff development needs considering, linking in with HE Academy and other agencies and fostering a culture of pedagogic research and publications.
Need to articulate questions of academic judgement in assessment, contracts and institutional structure for HE, risk assessments regarding HE provision.
Next steps include  an annual strategic review.

A selection of the Q&A issues raised:
·    Include clever references to London Skills and Employment Board, HEA, FDF, Olympics, Sector Skills Council, London Development Agency, EDEXCEL, etc
·    Use staff development day for wide input towards identification of priorities
·    First Draft has got to come from the heart and reflect the institution. Less could be more – tell the story, make the points as relate to your institution.
·    Sharing what it is you actually do  identifies scholarly activity
·    Remember the strategy is about students and the learner experience
·    Problem of culture FE vs HE must be addressed internally
·    Presentation to College Corporation – present it yourself, get the HE champion on-board
·    Government HE workforce strategy coming in Jan 2010; this will affect future direction.

Resources

HEFCE request for HE in FE strategies (2009/13) - Word document

HEFCE supplement: Good practice guide in writing strategies – Word document

HEFCE Annex C - Higher education strategy context: shape of provision – Word document

HEFCE Annex D - Further education colleges' higher education strategies – Word document

HEFCE institutional contact – enquiries about the strategy request can be made to Gemma Helbert
tel: 0117 931 7103; e-mail: g.helbert@hefce.ac.uk

Report on JISC RSC London webinar about Employer Engagement: http://www.rsc-london.ac.uk/1366/

What will you do next?

Several of the delegates said that they would take back the information shared during the event and apply it within their strategies and institutional planning forward planning. There was also interest in using the delegate list as a network for further support in the future.

Final thoughts

This half-day event highlighted the fact that many providers are still working on their HE in FE strategies,  often facing internal issues about the differing needs of HE and FE provision and whether it can be satisfied within the same institution. There was significant interest amongst delegates for holding another half-day event later in the academic year focussing on how the strategies might be implemented.

Evan Dickerson, JISC RSC Adviser

Kav Dev, JISC RSC Adviser

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