Higher Education Access Courses
Review of Higher Education Access/Foundation Course Provision
In 2007 the National Access Office circulated a consultation paper on higher education access courses to the advisory group and other stakeholders. This document was drafted following discussions with the Department of Education and Science who in 2003 called for a new policy approach for the provision and funding of higher education access courses.
The National Office paper outlined the rationale for the current provision of higher education access courses. It provided an initial mapping of the courses being offered and outlined some of the key challenges including:
- Many courses not being linked to the framework of qualifications
- An additional year of full-time study being a barrier for some students
- Access courses not being approved for student support schemes
- Students on access courses not being counted for core funding
(i) Is an award at level 5 of the National Framework an effective means of preparation for higher education?
The consultation paper proposed a number of questions as a starting point for further discussions between partners such as:
(ii) Should some or all level 5 awards include modules that support access to higher education?
(iii) Should all access courses lead to an award at level 5?
(iv) Can level 5 access courses be delivered by further education providers in collaboration with higher education institutions?
(v) What national guidelines on programme validation and funding (student and institutional) can be agreed by the DES, HEA and NQAI in consultation with further and higher education institutions?
In response to the National Office paper a group, representing the 12 higher education institutions that deliver or collaborate in the delivery of 37 access/foundation courses, proposed a review of provision would be an essential contribution to national policy. A Steering Committee was convened and terms of reference agreed by representatives of the IUA, DIT and IOTI, HEA and DES. Dr. Phyllis Murphy from the Equality Studies Department in UCD was appointed to undertake the review.
An overview of the emerging findings of the review was considered by the advisory group of the National Access Office at their meeting on 17 February, 2009. Further consultation on the outcome of the review and next steps is planned prior to publication later this year.