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Higher education in further education colleges

(HE in FE)

HEFCW encourages partnership between the higher and further education sectors to enable higher education courses to be run at further education (FE) colleges.

The main benefits are:
  • FE colleges provide local access to higher education through their greater number and spread across Wales
  • increased opportunities for progression between further and higher education
  • FE colleges often attract people who otherwise would not contemplate higher education

Many of the courses focus on vocational study. After completing their first higher education course (eg HND, HNC or Foundation Degree) at a further education college, students often have the opportunity to study further at a university.

Current funding arrangements

HE in FE courses in Wales are mainly funded through franchise arrangements. We provide funding to universities where the students are registered, although they study at the partner FE college. The university provides support and quality assurance for the course.

We fund some FE Colleges directly for providing higher education courses. We fund long-standing HE provision at Coleg Sir Gâr and Grŵp Llandrillo Cymru, as well as smaller amounts of provision at other FE colleges which developed from HE in FE initiatives we ran in 1997 and 1999.

In a direct funding arrangement, we still expect the FE college to have a strong relationship with a university to provide quality assurance and support.

Future development

Any future initiatives to develop HE in FE will focus on the franchise route, particularly on building local partnerships. This follows an evaluation of HE in FE partnerships, which concluded that franchise relationships could give a better basis for this provision than an increase in directly funded HE in FE.

HEFCW's initial decisions about future HE in FE policy: Circular W06/11HE


HEFCW’s decision to make undergraduate, part-time franchise provision the highest priority in determining teaching funding allocations for 2006/07: Circular W05/39HE



Outcome of Consultation for Higher Education in Further Education Colleges: Circular W04/60HE


Consultation on possible future arrangements for the delivery on HE in FE colleges: Circular W04/17HE


Foundation degrees

Some Foundation Degrees are included within HE in FE provision. Universities are free to develop and offer Foundation Degrees in their portfolios, including through franchise arrangements with FE colleges. We continue to work with the Welsh Government to develop its policy on Foundation Degrees. Additional funding for Foundation Degrees is being provided by the Welsh Government through the Universities Heads of the Valleys Initiative and through a convergence-funded all Wales Foundation Degree programme.

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