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In 2007-08 we ran a pilot exercise to test the workability of our proposal for the implementation of the requirement for further education colleges to submit higher education strategies. This document is an evaluation of our process for assessing the higher education strategies during that pilot.

Key findings:

  • Colleges found participation in the pilot exercise valuable for the opportunity it provided to constructively assess their strategy, as well as to raise the profile of higher education in the college.
  • Greater consistency was required in the approach to the process both within HEFCE and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, and in the way feedback was presented.
  • In many cases there was an issue about our capacity to assess the completeness, appropriateness and reliability of a strategy's evidence and claims.

Recommendations:

  • More detailed guidance to colleges should be provided regarding the format and content of a higher education strategy. For guidance to colleges see 'Request for higher education strategies from further education colleges' (HEFCE 2009/13) and 'Supporting higher education in further education colleges: Writing higher education strategies' (HEFCE 2009/05).
  • The process we used in the pilot should not be taken forward. This is implicit in the findings.