02 SES 10 B, VET and Higher Education
For the first time in Ireland the further education & training sector and the higher education sector have formally come together to address a range of related issues – the first being the issue of access, transfer and progression for learners between to the two sectors.
This paper emerges from research and discursive work of a recently formed network of higher education institutions (HEI’s) and further education and training providers (FET), and State bodies such as SOLAS (National Further Education & Training Authority of Ireland) and QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) meeting together as a working group with the intention of progressing the consultation paper Towards the Development of a New National Plan for Equity Of Access to Higher Education (NAO 2014) the Quality and Qualifications Ireland Strategy Statement 2014-2016 (QQI 2013), the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030 and the SOLAS publication Further Education and Training 2014-2019. All of these policy documents are driven by national need, particularly in relation to the labour market and job activation. However these policies are also driven by the European Community, and CEDEFOP's polices and recommendations. The overall aim of the network is to create and develop a formal network of Further Education and Higher Education providers within the Leinster Pillar II cluster, specifically established for the purpose of collaboration on enhancing access, transfer and progression opportunities across the region.
The network is particularly focused on Section 8 (p106) of the SOLAS strategy for the progression of FE graduates to Higher Education and to have the HEA reach its increase of 10% target for progression from FET to HE by 2016.
The developed world is slowly moving out of the worst economic crisis of our lifetime and this recovery still bears risks. With increasing wealth disparities within developed countries and the migration of refugees fleeing conflict to seek better quality lives, it is becoming clear that in equitable shared economic growth is not enough to foster social progress. Indeed the social cost of inequality is becoming evident through increased economic costs to meet the needs of more than 46 million people out of work in OECD countries and relative poverty affecting millions more (OECD 2014:13). The report Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators note that “In many countries the gap between the richest and the poorest is widening, youth unemployment remains high and access to social services remains elusive for many. The world is looking for ways to spur economic growth in a more inclusive manner” (OECD 2014:13).
To meet these needs a wealth of individualised relationships evolved over time between FET organisations, stakeholders, institutions and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to improve access, transfer and progression for learners seeking pathways to the higher education. There are many instances where individual arrangements between teachers and management of further education and higher education institutions have constructed facilitative pathways for further education graduates of particular standards to progress into higher education. This paper outlines some of these examples of good practice.
This research shows that there is a strong relationship between higher education and further education. However this relationship has not always been based fully on equality. Rather, it is based on a wide and diverse range of reasons including:, the experience of further education teachers who received their professional education in higher education institutions, the increasing demand from students and teachers in further education to find progression pathways for further education graduates and the historically segregated responsibilities of the State in relation to further education provision: for example, the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Education and Skills.
DES (2011) National Strategy for Higher Education 2030. Department of Education and Skills, Dublin. http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/national_strategy_for_higher_education_2030.pdf Dewey, J (1938) The theory of inquiry. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Wiston Feyerabend, P (1975) How to defend society against science. Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science Feyerabend, P, (2006) Cycle 113. Rhythms of the Brain (2006): 357. HEA (2014) Towards the Development of a New National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education. Higher Education Authority, Dublin. http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/consultation_paper_web_0.pdf HEA (2015). The Higher Education Authority. [On Line] Available At: http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/national_plan_for_equity_of_access_to_higher_ed.pdf Maxwell, N. and Dorrity, C. (2009). Access to third level education: Challenges for equality or opportunity in post Celtic Tier Ireland. Irish Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 1 Issue 2, ISSN NAC (2014) Consultation Paper - Towards the development of a new National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education. [On Line] Available At: http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/consultation_paper_web_0.pdf O’Reilly, P. (2008), The evolution of university access programmes in Ireland, Dublin: UCD Geary Institute. OECD (2014), Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators. OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2014-en QQI (2013) Quality and Qualifications Ireland Strategy Statement 2014-2016. Quality and Qualifications Ireland, Dublin. http://www.qqi.ie/Publications/QQI%20Strategy%20Statement%202014-2016.pdf SOLAS (2013) Further Education and Training 2014-2019. SOLAS Dublin (ww.solas.ie). https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Education-and-Training-Strategy-2014-2019.pdf SOLAS (2014), The 2014 Further Education and Training Services Plan [On Line] Available At: http://www.solas.ie/docs/FETServicesPlan.pdf
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