Rachel Davies and AOC President David Collins

Vision for National Skills University presented at Somerset College

David Collins, President of the Association of Colleges (AoC), outlined his vision of a National Skills University and a brand new Bachelor of Vocational Studies qualification to staff at Somerset College this week.

David Collins declared that the traditional model of university education was, for many potential learners, out-of-date, not accessible and in many cases did not represent value for money. He felt very strongly that to meet the needs of the UK economy of the future, the focus should be on providing degree-level study opportunities for people already in work and for young people studying vocational diplomas.

David's proposal is for a skills-based Bachelor degree quality-controlled and approved by a National Skills University. This would enable colleges to build on their current successful delivery of higher education, and provide a solution to the UK skills gap. The Bachelor of Vocational Studies qualification would take the equivalent of two years full-time study to complete and would be closely linked to the training needs of local and regional employers. Following the publication of hi concept discussion paper, David hopes to gain support from the AoC and college Principals.

Nearly one third of all colleges up and down the country, working in partnership with universities, are already enabling local people to gain relevant and high-quality degree qualifications. Somerset College has been in partnership with the University of Plymouth for over 15 years and now offers more than 30 degrees courses. The College has also recently launched a new part-time Foundation Degree in Computer Systems Management with Thames Valley University

Somerset College Principal Rachel Davis invited David Collins, who is also Principal of South Cheshire College, to come and talk to her staff after reading and responding to an article he wrote in the Times Educational Supplement earlier this year.

After listening to Mr Collins' presentation Rachel Davis said: 'I really do believe that what David and the AoC are proposing is extremely interesting and has enormous potential. It is definitely something colleges should be thinking about and considering as part of their future planning.'

The AoC hope that their proposal will link in with the new 14-19 Diplomas being launched across the country this year, providing a relevant route for students who choose this qualification to study to degree level. Somerset College are offering the new Diploma from September through the Taunton Deane and West Somerset Consortium.