The Complex Case of Positioning the Foundation Degree: Making Sense of A Degree That Is Not A Degree

  •  Ernest Kadembo    


The Foundation degree was launched in 2001 and has enjoyed growth but remains a controversial qualification. Foundation Degree Forward, the body charged by the UK government with providing a ‘national network or expertise to support the development and validation of high-quality Foundation degrees’ is championing the marketing of the Foundation degree and the government has poured a lot of resources towards its functions. The complexity of positioning the Foundation degree emanates from lack of clear differentiation. The performance of Fd graduates in organisations, continued support from the government and the employers will affect the long-term image of the qualification. While acknowledging some well founded arguments for the case for Fds this paper points out that the wholesale shift from the Higher Nationals (HNs) to Fds might have been too drastic. The paper argues that there was merit in re-engineering the HNs and avoid the huge amounts of resources expended on promoting the Fd. The Wagner Task Force Report to Ministers (2004: p3) could not have been more explicit about the challenge for Fds in stating “The need for them is clear, and the achievements of the first three years are impressive. There are still many challenges to be met if Foundation degrees are to become embedded as an integral part of our higher education system. However the first period of any innovation is the most difficult.”   

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