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A Framework for Higher Education in Scotland: Higher Education Review Phase 2

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A Framework for Higher Education in Scotland: Higher Education Review Phase 2

4 Teaching and Learning

Main messages

Key challenges in teaching and learning will be speeding the rate at which flexible and innovative provision is developed which: is responsive and relevant to the needs of learners, employers and Scotland more widely; fully contributes to the Executive's aspirations for lifelong learning and closing the opportunity gap; is high quality and operates efficiently. This will require:

  • sustaining and enhancing quality;
  • better information to support student choice;
  • greater responsiveness to demand;
  • taking account of the different types and needs of learners in developing and designing teaching strategies and provision;
  • detailed attention to the quality of the student experience;
  • alertness to new thinking about approaches to teaching and developments in technology;
  • greater co-operation and collaboration across and between institutions and sectors;
  • development of more and greater transparency in routes and entry and exit points for learners;
  • universal use of SCQF;
  • development of current and new markets (including skill-boosting for those in work, and further growth in international markets);
  • a strong, self-critical approach to relevance within institutions.

Making best use of capacity: 50% of young Scots now participate in higher education. The Executive does not plan any significant further expansion of government-funded places in higher education institutions. 14 We need instead to work with institutions to make the best use of the existing capacity of the Scottish higher education sector.

Institutions have a responsibility to students, and wider society, to offer students the opportunity to progress as quickly as possible to successful completion of their course of study and achievement of a qualification. Well-managed articulation, full accreditation of prior learning, good initial advice on choices, better retention and opportunities for accelerated study all need to become even more widespread. That will allow the significant number of places already funded in higher education institutions 14 to be used to enable more people to achieve the higher education qualifications of which they are capable and ensure that the time students spend dependent on student support and foregoing earnings is only ever as much as is really needed for what they want to achieve.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.1 Require SHEFC to target any further expansion on those institutions which can demonstrate that, by a variety of strategies, they are seeking to use existing places more effectively.
  • 4.2 With SHEFC, develop a measure for the number of students successfully completing a qualification relative to funded places allocated, and set a Scotland-wide target for an increase in that figure to which all institutions will be expected to make a contribution.

Enhancing Quality: As institutions develop and change their teaching provision it will be essential that quality enhancement is embedded in all teaching activity.

We welcome the new quality enhancement arrangements developed in Scotland in partnership by the Quality Assurance Agency, SHEFC, institutions and students. 15 The new quality regime has a clear focus on quality enhancement, with institutions expected to demonstrate that they have clear, well-managed strategies for promoting constant quality improvement across all aspects of learning and teaching. The Executive particularly welcomes the close involvement of students' representatives in designing and implementing this new system, and the recognition in the new arrangements of the importance of the overall quality of the student experience. Students have a right to expect that they will be well treated by providers and benefit from professionally-managed systems.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.3 Expect SHEFC to monitor closely the implementation of this new system, to ensure that it delivers real benefits to students, reduces low value-added bureaucracy and continues to provide a sufficient level of assurance and accountability.
  • 4.4 Ask the QAA/SHEFC/US/NUS Quality Working Group to examine the proposals in the DfES White Paper which relate to quality, to identify if any proposals in it which are not already covered in the new Scottish arrangements should be considered for adoption here.

Relating supply to demand: The capacity of institutions to anticipate, lead and respond to the range of external drivers for changing demand will be critical to future success.

Some of the drivers for change are already apparent. Scotland's population is expected to decline over the next 20 years as a consequence of a falling birth rate. As a result, the proportion of older people in the population, is expected to increase significantly. 16 As the demographic changes continue, employers will increasingly need a workforce of all ages and with the skills for the 21st century. Markets and technologies are changing. People will stay in the labour market longer and need to update their knowledge and skills more frequently. Higher education will need to adapt to these changes.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.5 Ask the Funding Councils and Enterprise Networks to plan the most effective use of resources to meet demand for learning and training, agreeing joint targeting and funding where appropriate. 17
  • 4.6 Ask the Funding Council look at future labour market requirements and types of learner and use this analysis to help institutions develop their provision so that it meets future demand.
  • 4.7 Improve the quality and consistency of information for all learners, through learndirect scotland working with Careers Scotland and Future Skills Scotland, further education colleges and others to ensure that learners have a seamless service incorporating the provision of information and guidance. 18
  • 4.8 Review the current arrangements within the Executive for communicating future workforce requirements in key public sector areas, including arrangements for the funding of health-related education and development, 19 and with SHEFC put in place better mechanisms for addressing these requirements.
  • 4.9 Expect all institutions to have mechanisms in place for regularly reviewing their provision in response to demand.
  • 4.10 Continue to provide data via Futureskills Scotland and other sources to inform learning providers, employers and learners about future supply and demand.

Flexibility: Institutions will need to offer learners a greater degree of flexibility of provision and modes of delivery. They will have to recognise and respond to the changing needs of different types of learner and SHEFC's own systems need to be able to recognise and support more flexible and innovative provision.

Improving the future life prospects of all, including meeting the needs of non-traditional learners, such as lone parents, women returning to work, disabled people and those with no family background of continuing education, requires institutions to be creative and flexible in designing and delivering provision.

The development of new options for degree-level study is needed, including accelerated and intensive courses, full and part-time mixed provision, and other provision for those who do not want to leave the labour market or want to be away from it for the shortest possible period. Also needed will be provision of inter-disciplinary learning in response to employer requirements such as those of the NHS. Short targeted courses and other provision also needs to grow - including continuing professional development (CPD) - designed to meet the needs of employers and in-work learners, if higher education is to play its part in helping Scotland adjust successfully to a changing society and economy.

SHEFC has a central role to play in stimulating these developments - though we expect learners and employers to continue to be the main funders of CPD and other courses aimed at those in work who already have a higher education qualification. We believe that it is right to concentrate public investment by the Executive primarily on supporting initial undergraduate qualification.

In addition, the use of ICT needs to become pervasive, and Scottish HEIs need to exploit further the potential of e-learning and other technological developments to support learning, with institutions sharing their experience. In particular, we should be taking advantage of the unique experience of the Open University in Scotland in the provision of distance learning of all sorts. The OU in Scotland became SHEFC funded for the first time in April 2001.

Openings Programme

The Openings Programme is a series of short introductory courses at pre-degree level designed to prepare students for undergraduate study by sampling Open University supported open learning, developing study skills and building confidence. Initial evaluation has been extremely positive and shown that those students who might have been previously excluded by gender, ethnic origin, age and social status, can participate and thrive in higher education. The courses cover specific areas of the curriculum such as maths, the arts, sciences or social sciences, and a highly popular course about dealing with change, such as returning to study or taking a different direction at work. Students can choose from five courses each of around 100 hours of study, which are offered at four points during the year.

Family Health Nurse

The University of Stirling has developed a "mixed mode" degree programme designed to prepare nurses working in remote and rural areas of northern Scotland for the new role of Family Health Nurse. The programme involves 40 weeks of full-time study, combining campus-based study in Inverness, web-based activities and practice-based learning. The concept of the programme emerged from the World Health Organization.

Approximately 30 students completed the pilot programme and graduated in June 2002. A formal evaluation is currently being conducted, but students have been very enthusiastic:

"Distance learning can be an isolating experience, but accessing the email and chat-room was an important way to communicate with colleagues and tutors and the support and reassurance received was invaluable".

To progress this we will:

  • 4.11 Ask SHEFC to examine what more specific work could be done, or incentives put in place, to stimulate the further development of more flexible provision.
  • 4.12 Expect institutions to help raise aspirations and break down barriers to learning for different types of learners - including lone parents, disabled people, women returners, those from family backgrounds who have not traditionally continued in education, or those living in remote locations - by recognising and responding to their diverse needs and being creative and flexible in the design and delivery of provision.
  • 4.13 Ask SHEFC to support and encourage the sustainable development of e-learning in Scotland in partnership with the sector and other stakeholders including through consideration of the recommendations made by SHEFC's e-learning group in its forthcoming report.
  • 4.14 Support investment in ICT in HEIs whether through SHEFC or the Enterprise bodies.

Access and Participation: We need to see real improvement in the proportions of students from the most economically disadvantaged groups benefiting from provision in our HEIs, and to improve retention rates across students from all backgrounds.

On-line medical school (IVIMEDS)

An ambitious Scotland-initiated venture, which will radically change the education of tomorrow's doctors across the globe, will be pioneered from August 2003 by students at Hull York Medical School in the UK with the first enrolments in 2004.

Led by the University of Dundee, thirty of the world's leading medical schools from the University of Miami to the University of Queensland, Australia have joined as partners with those in Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Hong Kong, China and the rest of the UK, to take forward this groundbreaking venture.

Its blending of the best of e-technology and face-to-face delivery could provide the cost effective answer to a range of problems including increasing the numbers of trained doctors, widening access to the profession across cultural and academic boundaries and, for rural communities, conquering the 'tyranny of distance' that discourages those with potential from going away to train.

The virtual school will allow students around the world to pursue a medical education through a combination of e-learning and clinical experience in local health facilities. It means wherever they are studying - from the most remote and underdeveloped areas to high tech cities - they will have access to the best of international expertise across a range of specialisms.

Understanding the Universe

In collaboration with Heriot-Watt University, the School of Physics at the University of St Andrews is developing a range of modules to be delivered through WebCT virtual learning environment. Significant use is made of the power of the computer for providing useful simulations, and of the environment for communications and assessment tools. The "Semiconductor Physics and Devices" module is being delivered to students working in industry undertaking the Doctorate Photonics programme, while other on-line material is being used by on-campus students.

HOTBED

The RSAMD's HOTBED project gives students quick and easy access to a storehouse of performances and precious archival recordings (mostly sourced from the archives of its partner, the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh). HOTBED researchers are investigating the impact of using networked digital sound resources on learning and teaching for performance students, looking at the best ways of presenting resources and giving students appropriate tools to work with them. HOTBED - Handing On Tradition By Electronic Dissemination - is about bringing 21st-century technology into an area in which music has previously been passed on by oral/aural transmission (rather than written transmission via notated scores). Here the computer takes on a role as a direct learning resource in which the main mode of interaction with the music is aural, rather than visual. RSAMD also highlights that "Last but by no means least, HOTBED is the home of some cracking tunes."

Scotland cannot afford to waste talent. While we welcome the significant level of participation in HE in Scotland, much of the increase amongst socially disadvantaged groups has been through the expansion in take-up of higher education opportunities at FE colleges. It remains disappointing that, within the HE sector, there has been much less movement in the proportion of those from the most economically disadvantaged groups. The Executive believes that Scottish HEIs are strongly committed to widening access and welcomes the seven pledges on this made by all Principals in March 2001 in "Our Commitment to Inclusion". The next critical move must be to ensure these commitments are firmly embedded in institutions at all levels and particularly, in developing institutional strategies, to recognise the crucial gatekeeper role played by admissions staff.

We recognise that alongside continued work by higher education institutions, improving retention and attainment at school or in FE among the most disadvantaged young people will be critical to closing the access gap in higher education.

We also want to see further improvements in levels of retention in higher education for students from all backgrounds. We recognise that the reasons for non-completion are complex. Our ambition must be that all students have a positive learning experience, complete their studies successfully and achieve their desired outcomes. Although retention rates in Scotland compare well with other countries, further improving retention needs to be pursued as a priority, so that access really means access to success.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.15 Work with the representative bodies in the sector and the Funding Council to set new sector-wide targets for improvement in access from the most economically disadvantaged groups and for the retention of students of all backgrounds, and monitor performance against these.
  • 4.16 In the meantime, continue to monitor progress through the Performance Indicators published annually by the Funding Council, and monitor the mix of entrants through the UCAS process.
  • 4.17 Expect all institutions to contribute to closing the opportunity gap between those who achieve their full potential and those who do not, recognising that different strategies will work for different institutions, and that there needs to be flexibility to allow institutions to choose how they will make their contribution. Access and equality of opportunity regardless of factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability or background must be the goal.

Our Commitment to Inclusion: a statement signed by Principals of all HEIs in Scotland (2001)

Fair admission: Throughout the sector we will continue to ensure that admission to Scottish higher education institutions is fair, clear and transparent for all students.

Valuing all achievement: The sector will recognise and promote as many routes into higher education as possible, valuing both prior learning and previous work or other experiences of students.

Helping people succeed: The sector will create opportunities at all stages in life by providing, on our own and in partnership with others, alternative ways into higher education such as access courses and summer schools.

Flexible learning: The sector will offer flexible patterns of learning, including full time, part time and mixed, evening, weekend and summer study options, and distance learning opportunities.

Building credit: The sector will enable the accumulation of academic credits by students as 'currency' to allow flexibility in when and where to study.

Supporting students: The sector will continue to give students all the support we can to make sure they complete their courses successfully, and where they don't will continue to investigate the reasons and address them where we can.

Reaching out: The sector will continue to take higher education into local communities, particularly through work in urban and rural areas with low participation and poor access to learning.

  • 4.18 Welcome innovative admissions strategies by individual institutions which seek to recognise talent and potential.
  • 4.19 Expect all institutions to build links with schools and further education colleges, in particular by playing a full part in the Wider Access Regional Forums, and supporting the work of initiatives such as Greater Opportunities of Access and Learning for Schools (GOALS) and Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS).
  • 4.20 Actively examine the possibilities for the development of more opportunities for progression to degree-level study from SCQF level 7 and 8 courses provided by further education colleges.
  • 4.21 Require SHEFC to examine access and retention strategies in its consideration of individual HEIs' strategic plans, to discuss with individual institutions any further action that may be required, and to share good practice.
  • 4.22 Require SHEFC to monitor the use of its widening access premium, which is aimed at improving retention, assess its added value and advise the Executive by the Autumn 2003 on its impact. Expect the sharing of good practice on retention to be built into any future initiatives.
  • 4.23 Stimulate more disadvantaged young people to remain in education by increasing support to 16-19 years olds from low income families to stay on at school and/or FE college, develop an entitlement programme for those leaving care whose schooling has been interrupted, 20 and pursue our aim of better results for all pupils leaving school but with clear and specific action to improve results for those currently underperforming. 21

Articulation and routeways: Increasing the opportunities for articulation - for example through the development of "2+2" opportunities - will help us meet our ambitions for access and participation, flexibility, and best use of capacity. Potential and current students must have better information, advice and guidance to inform choices; relevant learning and experience should be taken into account by institutions in admitting individuals into degree courses; and institutions have to be flexible on appropriate entry points. The full accreditation of prior learning should be addressed as much as an issue for students entering with traditional qualifications as for non-traditional students.

The Abertay Wider Access Centre

Widening access to higher education to everyone who could benefit from it is at the heart of the University of Abertay's mission. School pupils, college students and adult returners to education all receive help to enter higher education from specially designed programmes.

The outcome is: 98% of new students in 2000/2001 were from state schools, 37% were from social class IIIM, IV or V and 27% came from low participation neighbourhoods. Mature students comprised 31% of the new intake. Success comes from a range of innovative schemes: Turning Heads, introducing school pupils to the university, Academic Compact, guaranteeing a university place to all pupils who go on to gain the required Highers grades, AHEAD, Abertay's part-time access course for mature students, and a specially-designed transition course for students articulating into degree programmes from FE.

The University of Abertay is also reaching out to rural areas, to ensure that no-one is excluded because they live far from a university. Learning@Edzell, and now Learning@Kirriemiur, use the latest technology and teaching resources to offer access courses in the heart of the Angus Glens in a collaborative project run in association with Angus College, Angus Council and Dundee University.

Higher National Certificate and Diploma courses, and their equivalents at SCQF level 7 and 8, are valuable qualifications in their own right - popular with students and valued by employers, who are often involved in their design and delivery. There are no plans in Scotland to go down the route of Foundation Degrees. For many students HNC/Ds will rightly remain an end in themselves. In developing more progression and articulation routes - which will be critical to opening up our HEIs to a wider mix of students - it is in the long-term interest of Scotland that we still maintain the integrity of HNC/Ds and their equivalents as free-standing qualifications, characterised by a strong vocational focus. Taking this need into account, systems must support articulation between courses both between sectors and institutions, and HEIs and Further Education Colleges should work together to identify and streamline routes between providers. Information must be provided on entry and exit points, transportable credits and qualifications, the accreditation of prior experience and learning, "2+2" and fast tracking options, financial implications and employment opportunities. To enhance the transparency of articulation routes, all qualifications and routes offered by higher education institutions should be mapped onto the SCQF. The Funding Council should facilitate and support these developments.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.24 Introduce legislation to merge SHEFC and SFEFC. 22
  • 4.25 Take receipt of proposals in the summer from the Funding Councils on how we can use the outcome of the FE/HE articulation exercise undertaken by the Scottish Advisory Committee on Credit and Access (SACCA), in collaboration with the Wider Access Regional Forums. This will cover mapping, student tracking and bridging arrangements to maximise the benefits to learners and extend good practice in this area. 23

Student Support Mentoring Project

The Student Support Mentoring Project is a pioneering project designed and coordinated by the University of Paisley and supported by the European Social Fund and the Scottish Executive's Social Inclusion Partnership Fund and Renfrewshire Council.

The project aims to:

Increase retention of SIP students who enter the University of Paisley.

Provide students with skills for graduate employment.

Provide sessional employment opportunities for students.

It does this by providing a programme of active support. Students have received assistance with book costs, childcare, computers, one-to-one mentoring, networking, and social opportunities, workshops in study skills, finance, action planning, CV writing and interview skills.

Widening access and articulation

As part of its strategic commitment to widening opportunity and broadening access to higher education, Napier University has so far developed partnerships with 15 Further Education Colleges throughout Scotland. Students who have completed HNC/Ds at the partner colleges can gain advanced entry (typically to years 2 or 3) of seventy different degree programmes (80% of Napier's provision) across a broad range of arts, business, science and technology degree programmes.

Bridging courses, mentoring and other support is offered to smooth the transition from FE to HE. In addition to these strong articulation pathways, Napier University also works with its college partners to provide degree programmes in the colleges. For example, Napier's Network Computing degree is delivered at Aberdeen, James Watt and Lauder Colleges. By working with FE Colleges in this way, Napier is providing educational opportunities to regions and communities that traditionally have not had local access to degree-level provision.

  • 4.26 Expect all institutions to use the outcome of the SACCA exercise to examine the scope for extending their own involvement in providing progression and articulation opportunities.
  • 4.27 Encourage HEIs, FE colleges and the SQA to collaborate when qualifications are being developed, so as to maximise the potential for articulation and transition across sectors, and to improve information to students on courses where specific arrangements are available. 24
  • 4.28 Continue to look to the Funding Council to play its part in helping to achieve the full implementation of the SCQF.

Graduate skills and employability: It is a strength of the Scottish system that higher education provides a generalist broad-based education to nurture critical reflective thinking and a breadth of knowledge and understanding, as well as vocational qualifications to provide specific knowledge and skills. Institutions must have robust systems in place to ensure that courses are, and continue to be, relevant to the needs of learners and to the wider needs of the economy and society. In addition to proficiency in specific skills, the development and recognition of the need for 'soft skills' is also important and should be seen as a core element of the learning experience which institutions should provide.

Most courses in HEIs are vocational - Scottish HEIs have a long and distinguished tradition of offering vocational education in subjects such as medicine and law. In recent years, many new courses have been developed in higher education in response to the need for new vocational skills. HEIs should be supported - and not criticised - for identifying new areas of study which respond to the changing labour market. HEIs in turn need to be alert to the importance of retaining public confidence in the sector as a whole, and therefore be ready to show that such new courses have the academic rigour and vocational relevance which learners and wider society rightly expect. Courses which are intended to prepare people for a particular career should always be developed and provided in as close partnership as possible with the relevant employer representatives and professional bodies. Professional bodies in turn should keep their own requirements under review, and work constructively with HEIs to ensure that they are not imposing unnecessary inflexibilities.

The Scottish Employers Skill Survey 200225 indicated that 75% of employers reported recruits from HEIs were well prepared for employment in terms of general or core skills. Employers with skills shortages reported that the skills most commonly lacking for higher skilled jobs are: team working, customer handling and oral communication. These skills are not only valuable in the labour market - higher education should offer all students the chance to develop their ability to work confidently and effectively with other people.

Easing progression

Building on the close relationship developed between Abertay and Fife College in the early 1990s, the Abertay-Fife University Project remains a highly successful role model for collaboration in Scottish tertiary education. The Project has seen concrete results, not least in enhanced local opportunities for lifelong learners, an increased regional skills base and, ultimately, a contribution to national competitiveness. The success that the College and University have achieved are best demonstrated by the hundreds of learners who have benefited from the joint programmes - people who might not have enjoyed a higher education without the Project.

The Project's first success was to create genuinely seamless pathways for learners through articulation agreements between College HNDs and University degree programmes. Specially designed 3-year local degree courses followed, meeting employers' skills needs and providing opportunities to access higher education for students unable to move away from the Fife region. Novel "2+2" honours degrees involving joint delivery at all levels are now on the agenda.

Above all, students should have access to reliable information on career prospects, so that wherever these are an important factor in their decision on what and where to study, they can make well-informed choices - and course providers should take responsibility for ensuring that this information is available.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.29 Ask SHEFC to ensure that the revised quality assurance arrangements for higher education encourage all institutions to work closely with employer representatives and professional bodies wherever they are developing and delivering specifically vocational courses.
  • 4.30 Expect the Funding Councils to build on the work being done on careers education, information and guidance and its potential to contribute to the employability of learners. This is being taken forward in consultation with the sectors as part of the Councils' quality improvement strategy.
  • 4.31 Work with Careers Scotland and Universities Scotland to develop a 'question card' which helps prospective students ask the right questions about the employment prospects of those courses which have an explicit vocational purpose.
  • 4.32 Expect all institutions to draw on the information available from Futureskills Scotland and the Sector Skills Councils in reviewing and developing their provision.
  • 4.33 Expect all institutions, in reviewing and developing course content, to ensure transferable and 'soft' skills will be developed and recorded.

Serving business

Today small business owners are multi-functional, spread across wide geographical areas, and access to conventional learning is often neither practical nor affordable. Innovation in teaching methods is being used by The Robert Gordon University, in collaboration with Applied Arts Scotland and Scottish Enterprise Grampian, to design and develop Scotland's first online Continuous Personal Development (CPD) training resource for the craft-based creative industries. This will help contribute to the competitiveness of creative industries in Scotland, particularly in rural areas where access to

conventional learning is problematic. The research is exploring the potential of digital technologies within the creative industries and developing digital resources. The materials will be available online via the RGU Virtual Campus, providing access to tutors and specialists by e-mail, peer group networks, downloadable material, business support tools and relevant web links.

On-line careers service*

UHI Millennium Institute, working in partnership with the University of Aberdeen and Careers Scotland ( Highlands & Islands), has launched an on-line careers guidance service for higher education students and recent graduates. The service provides information on career choices, employer contacts and advice on important skills such as writing a curriculum vitae and interview techniques. An innovative feature is a selection of interactive modules intended to assist in assessing skills and motivations and prepare job applicants for interviews.

UHI Millennium Institute also undertook training of Careers Scotland staff in the use of video-conferencing to assist them in providing individual career counselling to clients who are unable to visit the main careers service offices.

* The on-line careers service is available at: www.gradscotnorth.ac.uk

International markets: The presence of international students enhances the environment for all students - both academically and culturally. Retention of highly skilled graduates from overseas also has the potential to make an important contribution to the future economic and social well-being of Scotland. There is scope for greater collaboration among stakeholders and more strategic marketing of Scottish higher education overseas - both in encouraging students to come here and in the provision of distance learning opportunities. Making the best of the distinctiveness and reputation of Scottish education to attract greater numbers of international students is an important goal. We must work together effectively to achieve it. Because Scotland has a relatively compact sector, we believe that collaboration rather than competition will maximise the benefits to the sector, and indeed Scotland, as a whole. Closer collaboration is compatible with maintaining the existing profile of particular courses and institutions in overseas markets while raising the overall profile of Scotland to the benefit of all.

We welcome the work being done by institutions both individually and collectively to attract greater numbers of international students to Scotland. We also recognise and value existing work on co-operative initiatives involving a range of stakeholders, including the distinctive brand for Scottish higher education within the Prime Minister's Initiative and the work of EducationUKScotland. We believe that closer co-operation could raise the profile of Scotland and strengthen the ability of Scottish institutions to attract students from other parts of the world, as well as making better use of resources available across the sector. The quality of the student experience is undoubtedly a major factor influencing student choice and personal recommendation is a powerful marketing tool. We want to see institutions work together to explore the possible development of an international students' charter pledging a basic level of service and support which students can expect when studying in Scotland, to give Scotland a competitive edge when students make their choices.

EducationUKScotland has a pivotal role to play in working for the sector, reducing duplication of effort, facilitating collaboration and linking into UK-wide resources such as the British Council. The organisation should be supported and used as a Scotland-wide resource. We recognise that the value of a Scottish "brand" will vary between different countries and even within different subject areas, and therefore that the approach to overseas recruitment will have to become increasingly sophisticated, and sensitive to "niche markets". There will be a continuing value in individual institutions promoting themselves in certain contexts. But in those cases, it is critical that institutions recognise that their principal competitors are other English-medium providers around the world and not other Scottish institutions. As such, institutions must always take care to avoid any competitive behaviour which risks damaging the reputation of Scottish institutions or Scottish higher education as a whole in overseas markets.

Because higher education has a key role to play in bringing talented and skilled individuals to Scotland - a priority for the Executive - we will look to the sector to advise and support initiatives in this area.

To progress this we will:

  • 4.34 Strengthen our relationship with EducationUKScotland by providing annual core funding for its operation for the next two years from 2003-04.
  • 4.35 Monitor the collaborative efforts of institutions through their work with EducationUKScotland. Take into account that performance and the progress towards the specific targets being developed by EducationUKScotland in deciding on any future funding for this area of activity.
  • 4.36 Expect all institutions to work with EducationUKScotland to support and inform the six areas of activity identified as priorities for its activities: partnerships, representation, market analysis, international promotion, web-based services and collaboration.
  • 4.37 Invite NUS Scotland, EducationUKScotland, Universities Scotland and the Association of Scottish Colleges to consider the development of an "international students' charter" to which all FE and HE institutions should be encouraged to subscribe. This will provide international students with a reference point indicating a minimum standard of help and support, including specialist advice, which they can expect in coming to any institution in Scotland.
  • 4.38 Continue to work with Whitehall departments and other devolved administrations to progress the Prime Minister's Initiative and achieve the targets set for increasing the numbers of overseas (non-EU) students who come here to study and consider ways in which the diversity of education across the UK can be fully reflected in these and related initiatives.
  • 4.39 Continue to welcome students from the EU to Scotland and see the expansion of the EU as offering potential to attract to Scotland talented young people from across Europe. Encourage our own students to take up opportunities to study in other parts of the EU, for example through the ERASMUS programme.
  • 4.40 Ask EducationUKScotland, working with HEIs and further education colleges, to explore how the availability of "2+2" and similar arrangements can give Scotland a competitive advantage in attracting overseas students.
  • 4.41 Expect institutions to share best practice on developing and sustaining alumni networks and explore with Universities Scotland the scope for building connections between individual alumni networks and Globalscot.
  • 4.42 Establish an implementation team within the Executive, with external advice as appropriate, to look at ways to attract more people to live and work in Scotland. Within this, we will consider ways in which more international students can be encouraged to stay in Scotland after they graduate.

Cross-border and cross-cultural collaboration

A triumvirate of business schools has launched an innovative MBA programme enabling students to immerse themselves in three different cultures while learning cutting edge business practice at the same time. The interMBA is a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde Graduate School of Business, Universiteit Nyenrode, the Netherlands, and Euro-Méditerranée Graduate School of Business, France.

With just over three months spent in each of the study locations of Glasgow, Amsterdam and Aix-en-Provence, workshops and career events in London and Brussels will make up the rest of the 12-month programme.

The aim of the programme is for a total immersion in European business culture within an international framework - the interMBA meets a demand in the market for a truly cross-border and cross-cultural business education. The first cohort is due to commence in September 2003.