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After seven years at the heart of employer engagement in higher education (HE), HEFCE will cease mainstream funding for Foundation Degree Forward (fdf) by July 2011, although transitional funding will be available until October 2011.

This follows the achievement of the Government's target of 100,000 foundation degree students to be enrolled at any one time, in England. HEFCE's investment of £100 million (Note 3) has also enhanced the employer engagement capability of universities throughout the country, as part of its ongoing workforce development programme.

HEFCE and fdf are now working together to secure and sustain fdf's legacy and expertise in foundation degree development and, more widely, employer engagement and work-based learning to support the development of higher-level skills.

David Sweeney, HEFCE Director of Research, Innovation and Skills, said:

'Foundation degrees were started in 2001-02 following a Government proposal to create a two-year higher education qualification that was flexible, accessible and met the needs of employers.

'The programme has been a resounding success. 250,000 students have taken up foundation degrees to date and fdf has been instrumental in helping to meet that target. Fdf has also helped universities and colleges to develop successful relationships with employers which have benefited students and employees across the country. I would like to thank Derek Longhurst and his colleagues for the very successful work fdf has undertaken. HEFCE colleagues will work closely with fdf in the coming months to ensure that its legacy is not lost.'

Derek Longhurst, Chief Executive of fdf, said:

'Much of our work has been based upon collaboration and sustainable partnerships. In addition to our work on Foundation Degrees, for instance, we have developed over 6000 accreditation opportunities for employees in the last two years through our Employer Based Training Accreditation service (EBTA) delivered in partnership with over 30 universities and more than 50 employers. HEFCE has allocated transitional funding up to October 2011 to ensure an orderly conclusion of the organisation. We will be talking to all of our partner organisations to ensure sustainable development beyond that date.'

Notes

  1. Foundation Degree Forward (fdf) was established as a national body by the 2003 HE White Paper as a HEFCE-funded organisation with a remit to support and promote high-quality foundation degrees. As a result of an evaluation in 2006, fdf shifted its role and branding away from an exclusive focus on foundation degrees towards workforce development and partnerships between employers and HE across all qualifications. Since 2003-04 HEFCE has granted fdf over £23 million.
  2. Foundation degrees are two-year HE qualifications that are broadly equivalent to the first two years of a degree. Jointly introduced by HEFCE and Government in 2001 (see 'Foundation Degree qualification benchmark' on the Quality Assurance Agency's web-site), and set against a background of declining numbers of Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs), foundation degrees were intended to meet future skills needs, particularly at the technical and associate professional level as well as to expand access to HE.
  3. HEFCE is continuing to support HE providers through its workforce development programme.