For the past quarter-of-a-century (at least) in England, governments of different political persuasion have promoted the idea of educational opportunity for the many - albeit translated through widely differing policies and practices. Colleges of higher education have been a significant force in shaping debate and encouraging changes. In particular, they have embraced the idea of the student life-cycle and devised appropriate interventions at each stage of the life-cycle: pre-entry; admission; across-the-learning-process; through assessment; into employment - and, of course, re-entry for lifelong learners. In particular, colleges recognise that student success is predicated on identifying and dismantling potential blocks or barriers at each of these stages, and ensuring that they do not impede progress for the new learners in HE.
A distinctive approach to encouraging student diversity is embraced by the creators of lifelong learning networks (LLNs). The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is funding local clusters of higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs) to work together in ways that will secure real additionality for people from under-represented groups, i.e. lower social classes and/or vocational training backgrounds. The intention is to introduce flexible and realisable learner progression pathways that will add value for the individual; will support institutional ambition for widening participation, and will contribute substantially to the higher skills agenda for a particular region/sub-region. One of the key vehicles for facilitating progression within LLNs is the English Foundation degree - a flexible, level-two employer-linked award.
The workshop will explore this developing LLN agenda for promoting success for a diverse student population.
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