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August 2004 - The University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) launches ‘Fit for Purpose’, a comprehensive resource to help Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Further Education Colleges (FECs) develop higher level vocational learning programmes which more accurately address the needs of employers.

Aimed at curriculum designers and deliverers within further and higher education, the toolkit’s purpose is to encourage the wider use of National Occupational Standards in foundation degrees, honours degrees, postgraduate programmes and graduate apprenticeships to ensure that:

· The vocational learning undertaken by students is more relevant and meaningful to employers
· graduates are more work-ready and attractive to potential employers.

‘Fit for Purpose’ is sponsored by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Nicky Brunker, head of national marketing at the LSC, explains the rationale behind its development:

“National Occupational Standards (NOS) define individual competence in performance terms, i.e. they represent the successful outcome of work activity. In excess of £100million has been invested in the development of NOS by government over the past 15 years, with a significantly greater sum contributed by employers. The result is that the UK has, arguably, the most sophisticated system of competencies in the world, which are kept up-to-date by the Skills for Business network of Sector Skills Councils.

“However, NOS are greatly underused by the majority of those responsible for designing higher education programmes – which may go some way to explaining why universities and colleges are often criticised by employers for not producing work-ready graduates. The LSC is committed to working with higher education to increase access to people with vocational skills and engage HEIs as partners in workforce development and our ongoing collaboration with UVAC on projects such as this helps us to achieve this.”

Professor Simon Roodhouse, chief executive of UVAC, who co-authored ‘Fit for Purpose’ with UVAC consultant, David Hemsworth, adds:

“It’s understandable why institutions have not generally embraced the standards. Firstly, they are rooted outside the usual higher education funding and regulatory systems; and secondly, the NOS language differs significantly from that used in higher education. ‘Fit for Purpose’ addresses this by explaining exactly what NOS are; outlining their role in vocational learning and qualifications; providing solutions to issues; sharing good practice tips and listing useful information sources.

“Additionally - following extensive research of best practice amongst UVAC members who are already effectively incorporating the standards – the toolkit includes a number of case studies which demonstrate how institutions can successfully develop learning programmes which achieve academic rigour, vocational relevance and work-ready competence.”

For further comment from Professor Simon Roodhouse, Nicky Brunker or from representatives from institutions currently using National Occupational Standards - as featured in ‘Fit for Purpose’ - contact Louise Jaggs at TextOnTap tel: 01242 257770 mob: 07712 011246 email:

Ends – over for notes to editors:

Notes to editors:

· ‘Fit for Purpose’ is available free of charge. A pdf version can be downloaded via the UVAC website ( Alternatively a printed version is available from Michelle Edwards at UVAC: tel: 01204 903355/903351; fax: 01204 903354; email:

· To expand on the use of NOS in higher education a series of workshops are taking place in London, Bolton, Bristol and Newcastle between October 2004 and March 2005. Further details are available from Louise Jaggs on 01242 257770.

Incorporating National Occupational Standards into HE programmes has helped institutions to:
1. Attract a wider range of learners, including those with vocational skills and qualifications.
2. Accredit prior experiential learning (APEL).
3. Develop learners’ workplace competence and ensure that graduates are ‘work-ready’.
4. Improve the quality and effectiveness of work-based learning.
5. Motivate learners and improve completion rates.
6. Provide progression to other HE courses and graduates’ continuing professional development.
7. Meet professional accreditation criteria.
8. Develop and strengthen links with employers.
9. Meet the skills needs of learners and employers.
10. Ensure the curriculum reflects industry practice.
11. Benchmark provision against national standards.
12. Incorporate national vocational qualifications within the HE award.
13. Speed curriculum development by drawing on ready-made and increasingly user-friendly standards, rather than ‘re-invent the wheel’.
14. Adopt flexible modes of delivery and assessment.
15. Deliver more structured vocational learning.
16. Spread the workload with employers.
17. Develop partnership-working.
18. Tap into new funding sources.
19. Fill gaps in provision.
20. Develop a course without being a specialist in that area.

About UVAC –
The University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) was established in 1999 as an independent voice for HE and FE on higher vocational learning. Chaired by Professor David Melville, vice chancellor of the University of Kent, UVAC’s membership includes 48 universities; 33 higher education and further education colleges; and corporate stakeholders such as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA),the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) and Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). UVAC is a not-for-profit organisation.
What UVAC does:
UVAC works with its members and others to:
· research, provide information and organise events to support its mission
· validate and accredit higher vocational learning programmes – including apprenticeships, foundation degrees and professional development programmes
· support the recognition of prior learning and the national application of credit transfer between educational institutions
· collaborate with educational institutions and employers to enhance graduate employability
· strongly encourage the use of national occupational standards.
What UVAC believes in:
UVAC champions and promotes:
· the value of work-related and work-based higher education learning
· the value of experiential and reflective learning
· the importance of meeting the higher vocational learning needs of individuals and employers
· work based and institutional routes to vocational higher education with no barriers.

About the LSC
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for funding and planning education and training for over 16-year-olds in England, other than in Universities. Our mission is to raise participation and attainment through high-quality education and training, which puts learners first. We strive for learning to hold no barriers, only opportunities to succeed. Established in April 2001, the Council operates through 47 local offices and a national office in Coventry.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of On Tap Communications in the following categories: Education & Human Resources, for more information visit