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The South West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder is one of three pathfinder projects supporting higher education to respond to regional skills needs. As part of its programme the pathfinder undertook a comprehensive costing study of 26 work-based learning projects largely funded through the South West Pathfinder.

This report summarises the key issues that emerged from the study with a view to informing those with strategic and operational oversight of employer engagement activity within universities and colleges. The report also makes recommendations for HEFCE. The main costing study on which this summary is based is available to download from the South West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder web-site.

The report found that there were a wide variety of costs across the projects but that costs were generally higher than standard provision. Indirect costs and development costs could be a substantial part of the total costs of work-based learning. However, in general, the most financially viable projects had employers that bore most of the development costs. The report highlights the importance for institutional managers of having full costing information before committing to work-based learning projects, although costs should always be considered alongside the benefits of partnership working with employers.