Foundation Degrees and Widening Participation: earning, learning and public sector modernisation

Doyle, Michael and O’Doherty, Eamon (2006) Foundation Degrees and Widening Participation: earning, learning and public sector modernisation. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 8 (1). ISSN 1466-6529

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Who is studying on Foundation Degrees? On which subjects do students enrol? What does the profile of enrolment 2003-05 indicate about work-based or work-focused Foundation Degrees? This article maps out the profile of Foundation Degrees at UK national, regional and sub-regional levels. Despite difficulties with the data and the differences in regional economies, an emergent national profile can be discerned. This national profile indicates a high percentage of women in employment enrolled on the qualification which is reflective of the support of the public sector in the development of the qualification. The article indicates the role of government itself, as the largest employer, and the functioning of Public Service Agreements for the strong development of part-time work-based Foundation Degrees.

In this form the Foundation Degree has, in part, been an aspect of the policy of modernisation which has facilitated the development of the qualification. There are tensions in public sector Foundation Degrees. Nevertheless, they have widened participation in higher education in the sub-region of Greater Manchester, especially those developed in the public sector. They have provided the opportunity for those in work to study at a higher level and such work-based learning has brought benefits to the individuals.

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