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Foundation degree programmes in health: perspectives of leaders and contributors across the UK

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:27 authored by Mary Northrop
Academics are at the forefront of the inception, design and delivery of Fds and therefore are responsible for ensuring the aims are met, but their views on the award and the delivery of curricula have not been sought. Foundation degrees (Fds) were introduced in 2000 and although courses have been evaluated, this has been from the employer or student perspective. Fds were created to meet a number of government agendas and were seen as unique, bringing together: life-long learning, widening participation, flexibility of delivery, employer engagement and work-experience. This research uses a mixed methods methodology. This includes: collating curriculum documents to explore commonalities and differences, a questionnaire sent out to academics across the UK, and semi-structured interviews of course teams from three Further Education colleges and three universities. Unexpected findings were that academics felt their own development had been enhanced through working with Fds. This had been transformative in relation to their career pathway or challenged them to develop their approaches to teaching. The other significant finding was that academics perceived Fd students as different or ‘other’ from those students on ‘traditional courses’. The students were described as hard working, motivated but also challenging and lacking self-confidence. A recurring theme was that Fds had provided a ‘second chance’. This led to discussions as to whether Fds are a bridge between a series of liminal states on a journey from affirmative to transformational learning. Other findings highlighted the complexity of developing and delivering Fds in collaboration with employers, other higher education providers and within institutions. The research found that Fds are complex and have no specific identity but consist of a family of awards. They meet widening participation and employers’ needs, but are not fully understood. The research has significance not only for Fds, but also future courses that aim to widen participation, include employer engagement and enable students to develop skills for specific work settings. The academics’ perspective adds to the existing views of employers and students of Fds about whether they have been successful.



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