Challenges and opportunities for universities Higher-level skills Dr Darryll Bravenboer Institute for Work Based Learning
Overview • Higher education policy and skills • The potential impact of HEFCE Student Number Control policy • Workforce development and employer engagement • University-business collaboration and skills • Higher Apprenticeships and universities • Employer ownership of skills • Summary of key challenges and opportunities
Higher education policy and skills • What is the role for universities in delivering the skills agenda? • Higher Ambitions (BIS, 2009) • Focus away from the expansion of 3 year full-time degrees • Need to provide more flexible forms of HE to meet the needs of those in work • More part-time, work-based learning, foundation degrees and higher apprenticeships • Skills for Sustainable Growth (BIS, 2010) • Skills positioned as almost exclusively an FE issue • No acknowledgement of a role for universities in workforce skills development • Very limited recognition of university qualifications as a means to accredit skills • Fleeting mention of Higher-level apprenticeship, then only at level 4 • Students at the Heart of the System (BIS, 2011) • Higher-level vocational provision largely positioned as the remit of FECs • Higher-level apprenticeships hardly mentioned - not associated with universities • Little mention of workforce development activity • Unlimited market for high-achieving traditional A-level entrants to university (AAB+) • A ‘margin’ market for HE at sub £7.5k
The potential impact of HEFCE Student Number Control policy • Some results from the consultation on SNC and teaching funding in 2013/14 and beyond • Government funding priorities – High-cost subjects, vulnerable subjects, WP, specialist institutions, postgraduate provision • Fds and HNDs progressions will not count as extra in SNC - but Cert HE/Dip HE/HNC will • New AAB+ equivalence - Access to HE Dip, Cambs Pre U, Advanced Dip, BTEC National Early Years • Small ‘Core’ numbers retained – to allow selective HEIs to include non-AAB+ students, contextual information to meet Access Agreement requirements • Equality – “There continue to be concerns over the potential implications of the SNC policies and their implementation for equality and diversity” (HEFCE, 2012/19) • “Since disadvantaged students are more likely to take vocational qualifications…these students would not form part of HEFCE’s uncontrolled population, and would therefore face greater competition for places from institutions’ core numbers” (HEFCE, 2012/19) • Part-time (0.25 FTE intensity etc) not included in the SNC but supplement to be removed
Workforce development and employer engagement • £148m public investment - £103 capacity and infrastructure, £45m delivering CF ASNs • HEFCE Workforce Development (WFD) Programme objectives • 20k CF ASNs, 100k Fds by 2010/11 – both met • To test employer demand – increased but concern post CF ASNs and new fees regime • Institutional change – Some individual HEI strategic change but limited sector impact • Widen access – evidence of WP – 51% of CF learners had no prior level 4 • Build capability and capacity for WFD - eg ‘standalone’, ‘hub and spoke’ ‘distributed’ • Inform policy – policy shift withdrawal of CF ASNs, new AAB+/Core and Margin regime etc • HEFCE evaluation recommendations summary • Active executive leadership, support and accountability required • Build strategic collaborative partnerships with employers and other providers to sustain a ‘pipeline’ of employer demand • Innovate flexible and responsive WFD delivery, costing and pricing and incentivising staff • HEFCE £12m WFD Transition funding • Adapt to new HE reforms - efficiencies, full cost recovery, PT loans, Higher Apprenticeships etc
University-business collaboration and skills • Some forms of collaboration related to skills development in the Wilson Review • In company up-skilling of employees • Bespoke collaborative degree programmes • Higher-level apprenticeships • Developing curricular to meet employer needs • “The curricular of degree programmes within a university are designed by the academic staff of that university. It is a fundamental role of academe…This is a non-negotiable situation.” • Professional body “accreditation constrains further the freedom on the academic staff to design the degree programme – it adds a further layer of prescriptive curricular requirements” • (Wilson Review, 2012, p41) • Recommends that SSC kite-marking be included in KIS • Support for Fds, Higher Apprenticeships and work-based qualifications • “Work-based learning pathways to higher qualifications have the potential to be a prominent feature of the HE landscape addressing some of the long-term skills needs of employers and the aspirations of individuals” (Wilson Review, 2012, p46)
Higher Apprenticeships and universities • Apprenticeships in 2010/11 • c68k Advanced Apprentice achievements in 2010/11, if c50+% want to progress to HE = c34k apprentices seeking progression to HE • Only c6-13% do progress (Smith and Joslin, 2011) • SASE published in 2011 – Higher Apprenticeships at levels 4 and 5 • Broad range of qualifications – QCF Dip at level 4 (37+ credits) to Fd at level 5 (240 credits) • Emphasis on QCF qualifications no mention of FHEQ (NB: Fd included) • Requirement for Guided Learning Hours rather than ‘study hours’ related to credit volume • Inclusion of ‘integrated’ quals but separate assessment of ‘technical knowledge’ and ‘competency’ • Higher Apprenticeship Fund - £25m over two bidding rounds • 30 projects funded in total - 2 x HEIs, 9 x FECs, 5 x PTPs, 4 x employers, 10 x SSCs • NAS issues for universities – “50% of training costs”, SFA/HEFCE, “Fds are ‘knowledge’ qualifications”, ‘HA or university’ marketing • HAs at degree levels SASE consultation – qual(s) size, FHEQ/QCF, Prof recognition, Level 6 and 7, plus requirements for ERR, PLTS, Functional Skills
Employer Ownership of Skills • “For employers collectively to own the skills agenda, public expenditure should shift from provider grants to incentives and investments which flow through employers into a single market for skills development” • “We want to encourage employers to take the lead in designing, developing and delivering the training and employment solutions they need” • “The benefit of employer ownership is that it will create the conditions for employers employees, colleges and training providers to step up and take responsibility for skills” UKCES 2011 • £250m total Employer Ownership of Skills fund • 1st round of funding - £67m allocated to 34 projects • 11k apprentices • 27k non-apprenticeship vocational training work experience opportunities • 49k other learning and training opportunities • What are the opportunities for universities here?
Summary of key challenges and opportunities • Universities largely excluded from the skills policy discourse, with ‘skills’ seen as an FE/employer matter – how can universities change/challenge this? • Strong incentives for universities to become more selective to enhance their share of the AAB+ market – how can the potential limit on access to vocational HE be mitigated? • Shift away from significant change in the nature of university provision to meet employer needs – where does this leave WFD activity within university missions? • Tension in terms of the ownership of the design of HE qualifications to address skills needs – Can collaborative models be established to overcome this? • Significant mixed messages regarding university engagement with HA development – Is there a specific leadership role for universities with WFD expertise in HA development? • A once in a generation opportunity to align university qualifications with professional recognition through degree level apprenticeships – How can universities help realise this potential?