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Government unveils expansion in degrees provided by FE colleges

3 February 2012

David Willets, the universities minister, has announced a rapid increase in higher education courses provided by further education colleges. This year, FE colleges will provide around 9,500 additional university places after successfully tendering for government funding for courses costing less than £7,500 a year.

This development builds on the successful model of many FE colleges who already provide higher education courses alongside A-Level, NVQ and other post-GCSE education. Last year, the government’s White Paper on higher education called for increased variety and competition amongst higher education providers. This year, the large number of FE colleges who were successful in their bids for additional funding is a significant move in that direction.

Demand for university education has dropped this year, but there will still be many more applicants than available places. The continuing pressure on the government to provide lower-cost degrees suggests that FE colleges will play an increasingly important role in the higher education sector in the coming years.

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