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The three-year Intensive Part-time project will enable Birkbeck to develop new undergraduate and postgraduate courses which acknowledge the demands of intensive evening study combined with other activities such as daytime work or caring for a family, thus allowing students to better manage such demanding combinations.
Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, said:
‘This major funding for Birkbeck will enable us to build on our commitment to offering flexible evening taught degree programmes that recognise the needs of today’s students.
‘Birkbeck is uniquely well placed to identify, develop and deliver innovative courses and specialist support for people who want to study intensively in the evenings while working during the daytime.’
In 2010-11 Birkbeck introduced intensive three-year evening undergraduate courses, to complement its traditional part-time four-year courses. The college has seen a huge increase in the number of students enrolling on these three-year courses, against a backdrop of a reduced take-up of its standard part-time courses.
The project will also explore ways to create stronger links between the worlds of work and study. Standard approaches to enhancing students’ employability and entrepreneurial skills do not apply to part-time learners, who may be seeking a better job with their current employer, a different career in a new industry or a move from employment to setting up their own business.
The Intensive Part-time project will work with employers to integrate their needs more closely with the curriculum, and explore the opportunities for combining intensive evening programmes with daytime work for students and employers.
Chris Millward, HEFCE Associate Director for Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange, welcomed the opportunities that the project will provide:
‘HEFCE’s investment will stimulate real innovation in the development and delivery of flexible, intensive evening programmes. This is timely, given the significant national drop HEFCE has previously highlighted in part-time recruitment. We expect there to be important lessons of value throughout the higher education sector.’
The HEFCE Catalyst Fund supports innovative and exceptional activity across the higher education sector in teaching, research and knowledge exchange. The fund provides investment in projects which will achieve major strategic changes and provide ongoing benefits for higher education and wider society that would not happen without additional support.