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DfEE announces the first foundation degree providers


Further details of the government's plans for foundation degrees have emerged in an announcement made by Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett yesterday.

Over the next two years, £10m is being made available for 35 higher education institutions to develop prototype programmes in partnership with 70 further education colleges. The first foundation degree programmes will be available to students from autumn next year. Among those taking part are the University of Central England, which will offer courses in Property and Construction and Management, Manchester Metropolitan University, which will offer a foundation degree in New Media Design, Oxford Brookes University, offering a course in Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism and the University of Sunderland, offering a course in e-business. A full list of colleges is available on the DfEE website.

Blunkett confirmed that students applying for a place on a foundation degree programme will be able to apply for financial support through student loans and fee waivers in the normal way. Some confusion remains over the exact length of the courses - although the courses will take two years full-time, the government has also said that courses could be taken part-time, but does not appear to have established a clear timetable for this. This is further complicated by the fact that a key feature of the foundation degrees will be the development of work-based skills, which the government says will probably be developed by students working part-time at the same time as taking a course. It is clear however that students who successfully complete the foundation degree will be able to go on and study for an honours degree with an extra year's full-time study.

The foundation degree will form a key part of the government's aim to develop workplace skills and encourage more people to extend their participation in formal education. Mr Blunkett said: "The foundation degree will be a new qualification for a new century. By linking higher education to the world of work we have responded to employers’ demands for highly qualified people who know their subject and can apply it in the workplace. Foundation degrees will ensure that everyone, whether they take the academic or vocational route into higher education, will have the skills and knowledge necessary to give them the competitive edge in the new global economy. People taking foundation degrees, whether full or part-time, will find that they are studying for a first -rate qualification. The courses being offered cover the entire range of business needs, from engineering to digital broadcasting. In keeping with the innovative nature of foundation degrees, I am pleased to see that many of these programmes are geared to the needs of the knowledge economy."

The government will be promoting the new qualifications with a national advertising campaign over the next few months. An outline of how the government envisages the qualifications to take shape is available at


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