In the United Kingdom, the quality of education has evolved with time. In the pursuit of quality and productivity, institutions, employers and the government have been researching for ways to design and deliver quality education that is tailored to the employability of graduates. Certain courses and programmes have been designed with the business sector in mind. To give equal access to people of different backgrounds, the government of United Kingdom established Office for Fair Access (OFFA) to widen the participation in education to the less privileged people, including the disabled people, ethnic minority people and the mature students. The widening participation in education is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) set the core competences through Quality Code for Higher Education (HE).
According to Wilson (2012), the government of the United Kingdom designed a policy to improve the quality of relationships between business and the higher education sector, titled Business-University Collaboration. This policy introduced the focus of vocational courses on employability. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 2009 described employability as a set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure that they have the capability of being effective at the workplace. To facilitate the collaboration between higher education and business, the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) was established to harness talent, research and development strength of both for economic benefits. This led to the establishment of the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), being the partnership between Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which supports institutions to engage in a broad range of activities with business, public sector and the community partners.
Various awarding institutions are offering academic and vocational qualifications with main aim of improving employability. One of these work-based qualifications is the Higher National Diplomas (HND) awarded by Pearson Education Limited and designed to teach work related skills. The company acquired BTEC and Edexcel, and renamed their qualification as Pearson BTEC. Pearson BTEC courses are regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), and followed the National Framework for Higher Education. Higher National Diploma is a qualification and credit framework (QCF) system. This means that it is regulated by Ofqual. The minimum credit point for HND is 240. The successful completion of one module is 15 credits. This has a Total Quality Time (TQT) of 150 hours of learning both in classroom and the associated activities. Pearson BTEC courses are part of the short-cycle higher education programmes with a full-time duration of two years. HND is at Level 5 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ).
HND courses are aimed at those already in work, those wishing to embark on a career change and those who have already completed their A level qualifications. It is also aimed at mature students with work experience. At the end of two years, students are required to have completed and achieved sixteen modules and in some cases must have accumulated work-based hours of practical experience. In most cases, Pearson BTEC HND courses are assignment based, and students can achieve pass, merit or distinction. HND courses being qualification and credit framework (QCF), students are allowed for a one year full-time top up for a university degree. All qualifications for HND and BSc/BA are all funded by the government, managed by the Student Loans Company (SLC). On completion of chosen qualifications, UK students are not required to automatically begin the loan repayment until they have earned £18,000 for Scotland and Northern Ireland; and £21,000 for England and Wales. The government aim is not to collect loan repayments but to enhance the skills of UK workforce to compete with the growing demand of global competences in the workplace for quality productivity synergies, hence the reduction of financial burden on UK’s further and higher educational demands on students.
Based on the above, London School of Management Education (LSME) is working in accordance with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Research Publication No. 203, December 2014. Innovation activities play an essential role in determining a firm’s innovation output and productivity. There are various approaches being used by LSME to support the employability of their students. Some of these approaches include the Career Day and the 200hours work-placement programmes built into the HND curriculum. According to the questions raised by the BIS research the investments in innovation activities and the investing firm, the generation of knowledge spill-overs affecting the innovation performance of other firms in the economic systems, LSME ensures that their HND graduates possess all the necessary qualities that demonstrate their employability which place them in a position of strength at the workplace, thereby, enabling employers to reap the benefits of enhanced skills, knowledge and the productivity of all students graduating from London School of Management Education as an institute that works with the governments at all level to achieve the expected outcome of vocational qualification . In addition, London School of Management Education is in partnership with Barking Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, of which it received an award in Innovation and Digital Media in July 2016 in recognition. In the end, LSME is proud to associate itself with the objective of BIS to link productivity with innovation activities (BIS, 2014).
The benefits of the reduction of financial burden on UK students help them to concentrate solely on the enhancement of their employability skills and competences. LSME students can choose a Pearson BTEC HND on Business and or Health and Social Care to position themselves on the global job market. With a HND qualification students can top up for a BSc or BA degree to add value to themselves academically and vocationally. There is no age limit and entrance qualification may be ‘being a mature student’ and the determination to take advantage of the government’s funding of higher education. One of the reasons for considering a HND qualification is that the government also offer financial help to those in low income bracket. This includes help for child-minding.
Being in full-time education does not mean that a student is in the college for five days a week. A full-time education at London School of Management Education is two days of classroom attendance, and of course, the associated activities off the College campus. It is advisable that one considers engaging himself or herself in the government funded education. The reason is to widen the participation, giving equal access of higher education to everyone. The benefits of HND in the UK are enormous as it affects the individual, the employer and the wider economy socially and culturally. Funded higher education focused on employability is the best thing that happens to the UK population. It has both national and global advantages on the micro and macro economies; an educated workforce is better than the workforce of mediocrity. This will reduce ineptitude and nepotism at workplace and place healthy competition at the heart of UK’s economy. I therefore, recommend that one should consider engaging in a work-related higher educational programme that will enhance future employability. The London School of Management Education is there to assist you to achieve HND qualification and to join the growing list of graduates in demand by UK businesses for productivity. To be good is good.
- White Paper on Higher Education: Students at the Heart of Education (BIS, 2011)
- Further and Higher Education Act 1992
- Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA)
- Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
- Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)
- Office for Fair Access (OFFA)
- Higher Education Academy (HEA)
- Review on Business-University Collaboration (Wilson, 2012)
- National Centre for University and Business (NCUB)
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)
- Framework for Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ)
- The Student Loans Company (SLC)