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Solid bedrock or shifting sands? The risky business of laying foundations

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This paper examines the risks Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) run in attempting to develop and deliver Foundation Degrees (FDs). It draws on case study findings from two HEIs' attempts to negotiate the risky business of: initial development and steering a course between partnership, collaboration and competition; securing employer involvement and moving towards vocational provision; and using FDs to promote access and participation. It is argued that the risks are generated by the ways in which FDs create processes of detraditionalisation and individualisation to meet differing, if not contradictory, aims – e.g. widening participation and addressing skills gaps. The paper concludes by arguing that the extent to which FDs become embedded in the HE landscape will depend on how well these processes can be negotiated. This will require central government to reduce and redistribute the risks of developing and delivering FDs. At the very least this will necessitate addressing the tensions between the vocational and widening participation/inclusion drivers of FD policy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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  • The Journal of Access Policy and Practice informs and supports development in access and widening participation. It explores education policy and practice as it affects access to learning and surveys the field, both nationally and internationally. Informed by theory and current research the journal shares ideas and practical solutions to create wider and deeper participation in lifelong learning and offers a space for practitioners and academics to critically reflect and debate different perspectives.
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