The case of higher education provision in further education: leadership in the evolution of higher education in the post leaving certificate sector of the city of Dublin vocational education committee.
Murray, Denis (2015) The case of higher education provision in further education: leadership in the evolution of higher education in the post leaving certificate sector of the city of Dublin vocational education committee. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
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The case of Higher Education provision in Further Education: Leadership in the evolution of Higher Education in the Post Leaving Certificate sector of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. (Denis Murray, BA, MBS.)
This research investigates evolutionary change in Further Education (FE) within the Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) sector with a particular emphasis on the development of Higher Education (HE) courses within the CDVEC. The objective of the study is to understand what role leadership played in this development and if an ‘institutional habitus‘ evolved where greater social and cultural capital was created or enhanced for learners who otherwise may have discontinued their education at an early stage.
The methodology is qualitative using a case study consisting of semi structured, indepth interviews, with a small number of relevant stakeholders, a convenience survey of students pursuing higher education in colleges of further education and a convenience survey of teachers within the further education sector. The research also includes official documents and archival records relating to the development, validation and accreditation of HE programmes in FE.
The findings are grouped under the three main questions of the thesis.
How and why was higher education developed in further education?
The findings suggest leadership came from within the PLC colleges and was a consequence of the creation of an ‘institutional habitus’ where conditions of existence contributed greatly to the development of higher education programmes in the sector. Higher education programmes were developed through a combination of enthusiastic teachers, who had been encultured in programme development, and a perceived need to create a better environment for students to continue in their education. While the CDVEC provided tacit support there was no input from the Department of Education who were either oblivious to its development or simply adopted a wait and see attitude to the development of a range of courses in higher education through to level 8 on the National Qualifications Framework.
Have these higher education programmes been successful in any way?
Higher education programme delivery in further education has been most successful with in excess of 7,000 students having attained higher education qualifications from one college alone over the past 22 years. Almost 1000 of these completed BA honour’s degree level 8 programmes. While many of these graduates have gone on to work in industry as many as 25% continued to master’s degree level and increasing numbers from this cohort have completed doctoral level studies. The key advantage to students pursuing these programmes is the manner in which they can access, transfer and progress within one college. Another advantage for students relates to the intimate nature of FECs. Smaller class sizes and greater one-on-one tuition and guidance enhance social capital for both the
xix learners and the college. Students also remarked about the types of programmes being delivered and how they were more suited to what the students wanted.
How might current DES policy impact on the development and delivery of higher education in further education?
The Department of Education is not in favour of HE within FE but have agreed to allow legacy programmes continue. A block has been put on the development of any further programmes of HE that are intended to be delivered within FECs. Students past and present, teachers, principals and industry have all benefited from these programmes. New industries have been created in the State where employment is growing; examples would include Animation, Game Design and Illustration. These courses, which were developed within the FE sector, have been delivered for more than 20 years and are now being copied and delivered by the ITs.
The success of these programmes is unquestionable as is the authenticity of those who developed them. All FECs believed development and delivery of HE courses should continue. There was genuine concern that the goals and objectives of FECs would change and that an amalgamation with FAS under SOLAS might seriously undermine the perceived mission, goals and objectives of the FE sector. Further, they believe the amalgamation of FECs and FÁS will be detrimental to the educational nature of FECs and were worried about the future of education and an over emphasis on training and preparing people for work. It might be time the Department took an interest in what has been going on within the FEC sector and acknowledge the fact that alternative paths to higher education have contributed substantially to the socio-economic development of our country.
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