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Foundation degrees: Key statistics 2001-02 to 2009-10

April 2010 | ref: 2010/12

Heads of publicly funded higher education institutions in the UK
Heads of publicly funded further education colleges in the UK

Of interest to those responsible for:

Student data, Widening participation, Learning and teaching
This report updates the HEFCE reports 2007/03 and 2008/16. It describes key characteristics of foundation degree programmes and students. Trends in student numbers, the characteristics of programmes, attributes of students, progression and qualification rates, progression to honours degree study and employment outcomes are all reported.

Contents

  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Sources and definitions
  • Growth in foundation degree provision
  • Context statistics
  • Programme characteristics
  • Student attributes
  • Progression through foundation degree programmes
  • Progression from foundation to honours degree programmes
  • After qualifying: employment outcomes
  • Annex A Additional tables – rates of qualifying, and progression from foundation to honours degree programme, for cohorts not previously reported
  • Annex B Response rates to the DLHE and longitudinal DLHE surveys
  • List of abbreviations

Executive summary

Purpose

1. This document updates the previous reports 'Foundation degrees: key statistics 2001-02 to 2006-07' (HEFCE 2007/03) and 'Foundation degrees: key statistics 2001-02 to 2007-08' (HEFCE 2008/16), describing the characteristics of foundation degree programmes. The attributes, progression, achievement and post-qualification outcomes of students on those programmes are presented.

Key points

2. In 2009-10, higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs) have reported that 99,475 students were registered, or were expected to register, on foundation degree programmes. This included 53,750 entrants: around 5,000 more than were reported in 2008-09. One year early, this figure is just 525 short of the government target (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, 2008) of 100,000 by 2010see note 1. Even with no growth in entrants, it is likely that the target is exceeded by a substantial margin in 2010-11. The number of students studying a second (or later) year of their foundation degree programme in 2010-11, and the cohort of entrants to 2010-11 are likely to sum to more than 100,000.

3. The detailed picture of foundation degree provision confirms the ones reported previously, based on the analysis of earlier cohorts. Because of the year-on-year expansion of foundation degree provision, these new results are based on larger numbers and are correspondingly more reliable.

Selected results

4. Here we set out a small selection of the results discussed by this report. In all cases the results refer to the most recent data available. Full discussion of results, and coverage of data not previously reported, can be found in the main sections of the report.

Characteristics of foundation degree programmes

5. For home entrants to programmes in academic year 2008-09 we found:

  1. Sixty per cent studied full-time.
  2. Among full-time entrants, creative arts and design was the most common subject area, studied by 22 per cent of the cohort.
  3. Among part-time entrants, business and administrative studies was the most common subject area, studied by 26 per cent of the cohort.
  4. Ninety-four per cent of full-time students were on programmes of two years or shorter.
  5. For part-time entrants, a course length of three years or less was recorded for 73 per cent of the cohort. Very short courses of two years or less were recorded for 36 per cent of part-time entrants.
  6. Twenty-two per cent of part-time entrants studied by distance learning.

Student attributes

6. For home entrants to programmes in academic year 2008-09 we found:

  1. Female students outnumbered males. Among full-time entrants 54 per cent were female and 64 per cent of part-time entrants were female.
  2. Forty-nine per cent of full-time entrants were aged under 20 when they started their course. Part-time entrants were older, with 55 per cent aged 30 and over.
  3. Among full-time entrants, A-level, Vocational Certificate of Education (VCE) and equivalent qualifications were the most common highest qualification on entry: held by 38 per cent of the cohort. A further 13 per cent held higher education (HE) qualifications on entry to their foundation degree programme.
  4. For part-time entrants, the most common highest qualifications on entry were HE qualifications (29 per cent). A-level, VCE and equivalents were held by 19 per cent of the cohort as their highest qualifications on entry.

Progression through foundation degree programmes

7. Our analysis of students' progression through their foundation degree courses was based on those who studied programmes following a standard academic year and of a specific expected length. For students who were registered at an HEI we found:

  1. Among full-time entrants in 2007-08, 80 per cent continued to a second year of study in HE in 2008-09. For part-time entrants the equivalent proportion was 73 per cent.
  2. For entrants in 2007-08 following a full-time, two-year programme, 53 per cent received a foundation degree award by 31 July 2009. A further 3 per cent received another HE award, and 25 per cent were still studying for a foundation degree or higher award.
  3. For part-time entrants to a three-year programme in 2006-07, 42 per cent received a foundation degree award by 31 July 2009. A further 5 per cent of the cohort received another HE award, and 19 per cent were still studying for a foundation degree or higher.

Progression from foundation to honours degree programmes

8. For students who were registered at an HEI for their foundation degree, and who qualified with a foundation degree award in 2007-08, we found:

  1. More than half of students who studied full-time for their foundation degree (59 per cent) went on to study an honours degree in 2008-09. Among part-time qualifiers this proportion was 42 per cent. Most students who continued their studies did so registered at the same HEI at which they were registered for their foundation degree.
  2. Around 80 per cent of qualifiers were credited with the equivalent of full-time study for two years on an honours degree programme, regardless of whether or not they had changed institution for their honours degree study.
  3. Of those foundation degree qualifiers who went into the final year of an honours programme in 2008-09, 67 per cent were reported as graduating in that year.

After qualifying: employment outcomes

9. Information on employment six months after qualifying is based on all students who qualified with a foundation degree and responded to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. For students who qualified in 2007-08, we found:

  1. Sixty-five per cent of those who had studied full-time for their foundation degree were reported as still studying six months after qualifying (whether or not they were in employment at the same time). Among those who studied part-time, this proportion was 48 per cent.
  2. Whether or not they were studying at the same time, 47 per cent of full-time foundation degree qualifiers were in employment six months later. The proportion was higher among part-time qualifiers (85 per cent).
  3. Only 7 per cent of full-time qualifiers, and 4 per cent of part-time qualifiers, were neither studying nor in employment.
  4. Forty-three per cent of full-time foundation degree qualifiers in employment were in graduate-level jobs, with 92 per cent stating 'positive' reasons for taking the job. Among part-time qualifiers these proportions were 60 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

10. The longitudinal DLHE survey (taken three-and-a-half years after qualifying) provided information on foundation degree qualifiers from 2004-05. This showed that 91 per cent of these qualifiers were in employment after three-and-a-half years, compared to 69 per cent after six months.

11. Of those in employment after three-and-a-half years, 53 per cent were in graduate jobs. This compared to 45 per cent of employed qualifiers being in graduate jobs six months after qualifying.

Action required

12. No action is required in response to this document.


Notes

  1. This is interpreting '2010' to mean the academic year 2010-11.
Enquiries should be directed to:

Paul Hazell, tel 0117 931 7452, e-mail p.hazell@hefce.ac.uk

Alison Brunt, tel 0117 931 7166, e-mail a.brunt@hefce.ac.uk

Page last updated 15 June 2012

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