Leading figures in the further education (FE) sector have given a cautious welcome to government plans to introduce more competition into provision of higher education (HE).
The coalition government's Higher Education white paper, released last week, lays out plans to help more FE colleges and private providers teach HE.
The paper, titled Students at the Heart of the System calls for a “diverse, competitive system that can offer different types of higher education so that students can choose freely between a wide range of providers.”
The main point of the white paper being welcomed by colleges is the plan to allocate 20,000 HE student places to the strongest bidders from all institutions charging less than £7,500.
The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) said: “Most FE colleges teaching HE will charge £6,000 or less and are therefore likely to be the main beneficiaries of this flexible margin.”
Lynne Sedgmore heads the 157 Group, a lobby representing major FE colleges in England. She said: "The government's white paper confirms the 157 Group's belief that further education colleges are central to the future of higher education policy."
Some 250 FE colleges already teach HE, Sedgmore noted. She added: “Their strengths include combining high quality teaching with responsiveness to local employment needs – crucial for a nation grappling with high unemployment.”
Posted by Jacqui Fox
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