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Part-Time Students

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government are taking to promote foundation degrees as high-quality qualifications among (a) learners and (b) employers; and what steps the Government are taking to ensure that foundation degrees extend opportunities to study for part-time students. [R] [113198]

The Government's plans for a significant expansion of foundation degrees are set out in 'The Future of Higher Education' (Cm 5735). Details are currently being worked up, in collaboration with the Higher Education Funding Council for England and other interested parties.

The Quality Assurance Agency is responsible for safeguarding the standards and quality of the foundation degree as a higher education qualification. Employers and employer organisations are being involved in foundation degree design and development to ensure that qualifications meet professional standards and workplace needs. 50 per cent, of students currently studying for foundation degrees are part-time. A new promotion campaign to be launched later this year will continue to promote the message to both students and employers alike of the quality of foundation degrees and of the flexible modes of study available.

This answer refers to England only.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government are taking to encourage a more comprehensive system of credit accumulation and transfer for part-time students. [R] [113216]

Credit systems which make it possible to break off and start again without having to repeat learning are increasingly important for part time learners in higher education. We recognised this in the White Paper and this is why we are encouraging HEFCE to work with other partners in the HE sector to identify and build upon good practice in the use of credit systems. HEFCE will be undertaking a two year programme which will include a number of pilot schemes using credit to support flexible progression and transfer between institutions and qualifications.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government are taking to ensure that part-time students have access to a broad and balanced curriculum within easy travelling distance between their homes and place of study. [R] [113226]

Higher education institutions themselves determine what programmes and courses they offer. They work increasingly with Regional Development Agencies and local Learning and Skills Councils to identify regional and sub-regional priorities and to develop appropriate programmes tailored to the needs of students and the economy.The Government recognise the importance of providing flexible ways of learning and new types of qualifications to meet the wide variety of needs of learners. Credit systems, which make it possible to break off and start again without having to repeat learning, will become increasingly important for part-time higher education students. We are building on the potential of e-learning to offer interactive, individualised learning at the pace, place and level most suited to the learner. The new foundation degrees are inherently flexible in how they are delivered: not only full-time or part-time at an institution but also through distance learning or in the workplace.As set out in our recent White Paper "The future of higher education" we are also improving the package of support for part-time students including a grant to help with the costs of travel.