Report to Foundation Degree Forward on the impact of foundation degrees on students and the workplace

Greenwood, Maggie; Little, Brenda; Burch, Eddie; Collins, Carol; Kimura, Maki and Yarrow, Karen (2008). Report to Foundation Degree Forward on the impact of foundation degrees on students and the workplace. Learning and Skills Network; CHERI, London.


The study (commissioned by Foundation Degree Forward) was undertaken by a team of researchers from the Open University's Centre for Higher Education Research and Information and the Learning and Skills Network. It set out to explore the impact of foundation degrees from students' and employers' perspectives. By design it also aimed to build capacity among (mainly) staff in further education colleges delivering Foundation degree (Fd) 8 programmes through the involvement of Fd practitioners in the study. Many of the Fds in the study were still rather new, and some of the research findings reflect this recency. The study found that students and employers perceive a range of benefits that Fd study brings to individuals and the workplace. Full-time students cited gaining real business/industry experience, gaining broad knowledge of a specific industry, developing relevant knowledge and skills, and making contacts for future jobs as some of the benefits. Those already in employment cited getting back to learning, gaining new subject knowledge and an understanding of theories linked to, and informed by workplace practices, the development of academic skills, and gaining broader perspectives on their current work. Most students considered they had gained confidence through their studies.

Employers also noted the gains in broader understandings and improved performance in the workplace. However, the study also found that employer involvement in the design and delivery of Fds was very variable. A few had been actively engaged, and practitioners acknowledged that engaging employers effectively and persuading them to take part in future developments could be a challenge. The report notes that many of the Fds involved in the study had yet to capitalise on the intended levels of integration of academic and work-based learning, and of employer engagement which are seen as some of the distinctive features of Fds.

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