Open Programme (ACE) Consultation Report

Academic Shape Consultation:

The Open Programme and associated Certificate of Higher Education

1.   Background information

A proposal was submitted to Court to consider withdrawing from some or all Open Programmes courses and the associated Certificate in Higher Education on the basis that they did not fit with the University’s strategy.  The case was as follows:

The School of Education runs a suite of continuing education courses under the banner of the Open Programme.  Most of the courses have no entry qualifications, no formal examinations, and usually no requirement of previous subject knowledge although many do feature an assessment option which, if passed, awards credit towards an Award in Continuing Education.  The courses also act as a foundation for Certificate of Higher Education courses.  Open Programme courses generate income through fees charged but they are also underpinned by SFC income in the form of funded places that could be deployed elsewhere in the University (in excess of 350 funded places are traditionally attributed to the Open Programme across the following funding subject groups: Humanities, Languages and Business; Creative Arts and Hospitality; Science; Social Sciences; Other Health and Welfare; Computing and Information Science; Other Education).

The Strategy for the School of Education is to drive forward the frontiers of learning knowledge, curriculum and assessment in education from pre-5 to higher education.  The School has plans to expand and diversify civic and community education programmes including the revitalization of the Masters programme in Community Development to attract home and international students.

It was proposed that there are other, and larger, providers in the City of Glasgow of courses similar to those offered under the Open Programme.

While it was acknowledged that detailed calculations were required it was envisaged that closing the Open Programme courses will reduce salary costs in the School, offset by the loss of income.  In addition, removing the need to provide space for some of the courses and staff would facilitate a reduction in the Estate footprint.

The Panel has conducted a comprehensive consultation exercise, inviting input from a range of parties both internal to the University and external.  It has also benefited from receipt of the many submissions to the Principal and to the Head of College.  The Panel met with the Head of the College, with the School of Education Executive, and with the senior staff associated with the Open Programme to take evidence as well as holding open meetings with staff teaching on the programmes and students undertaking the programmes: 4 meetings with each of these constituencies were held including in the evening.  A meeting was also held with the SRC.

The Panel does not support the SMG proposition that the University withdraws from the Open Programme.  That said, the view of the Panel was that the Open Programme cannot continue to operate on its existing basis and a number of recommendations for change are included.

2.   Current Provision and Activity

The Open Programme and Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE) are an integrated set of courses that were designed to provide lifelong learning opportunities for adults in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.  The courses include non-accredited and accredited courses (Levels 1-2) during evenings, daytime and weekends, predominantly during semester time.  Most are offered as standalone courses but a small number of programmes are offered in which students elect to study for the award from the outset (Certificate in Field Archaeology (2 years) and Certificate in Higher Education in Drug and Alcohol Practice (offered through STRADA)).

For Session 2010-11 (as at March 2011) there are 5,973 enrolments on 408 courses across a wide range of subject areas in Languages, Arts and Humanities, Science, and Social Science:

Enrolments

n

%

Languages

1753

29.3

Art

1108

18.6

History and International Affairs

756

12.7

Literature and related studies (including media and film)

567

9.5

Archaeology, Classical Studies and Egyptology

496

8.3

Science

475

8.0

Music

403

6.7

Social Sciences

214

3.6

Philosophy and Religious Studies

153

2.6

Computing

48

0.8

Total enrolments

5973

100

Table 1. Enrolments on courses by subject area.

 

This corresponds to 4,267 students as some students enrol for more than one course.  Seventy five percent of enrolments are on accredited programmes. These programmes include ACE (Award in Continuing Education 4-8 Credits) courses (39%) and Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE Levels 1-2[1]) (35%) of which more than two thirds are Language courses (Level 1, 12 credits).  Twenty six percent of enrolments include day schools, events and short courses that carry no credit (Table 2).

 

n

%

Non-credit

1543

25.6

ACE (4 or 8 credits)

2357

39.1

CertHE Non-language (Level 1-2, 10-40 credits)

657

10.9

CertHE Languages (Level 1, 12 credits)

1467

24.4

Total (enrolments)

6024

100.0


Table 2. The number and percentage of enrolments on different types of courses[2].

In addition, three Access Programmes are offered:

Access to Arts and Social Sciences

Access to Law, Business and Accountancy

Access to Sciences, Engineering and Nursing

These programmes are excluded from the consultation exercise.

The Open Programme is staffed by a combination of core (permanent) academic staff (many of whom are involved in other aspects of the activities of the School of Education as well as contributing to other Schools) as well as support staff and a large number of tutors hired either on zero hours contracts or on an Atypical Worker basis (over 600 tutors were written to).  Of the tutors, 38 current or former UoG staff are involved as well as a small number of graduate students.   The Director of the Open Programme is Dr Robert Hamilton (who, since September 2010, has also been appointed as co-director of community engagement within the School of Education) and he is supported by staff responsible for elements of the provision as follows:

Languages: Dr Liam Kane & Mr Kenneth Milligan (0.75 fte appointment)

Visual Arts: Dr Maureen Park

History and International Affairs: Dr Robert Hamilton

Literature and Related Studies including Media and Film Studies: Dr Paul Innes

Archaeology, Classical Studies and Egyptology: Dr Angela McDonald

Life Sciences: Dr Dominic McCafferty

Earth Science: Dr Michael Keen (0.1 fte appointment)

Music: Dr J Stuart Campbell (0.1 fte appointment)

Social Sciences:  Dr Laura Sharp (0.1 fte temporary appointment)

Philosophy and Religious Studies: Mr Keith Hammond

Astronomy and Physics including Computing: Dr Alec MacKinnon

Each subject area is led by the named subject specialist above, with Dr Robert Hamilton having oversight over the entire programme.  In addition, Dr Hamilton and Dr Maureen Park have oversight over all short course (ACE) provision within the programme, with Dr Dominic McCafferty having oversight over the CertHE courses.  All core academic staff meet via the Adult and Continuing Education committee which is chaired by Dr Robert Hamilton.  The support staff (including enrolment staff) are represented by the administrators, Ms Claire Wylie and Ms Helen McWhirr, and the guidance officer, Mrs Irene Vezza, who also attend these meetings.

As part of the then Department of Adult and Continuing Education in the Faculty of Education, the last internal review of learning and teaching was in 2005/06.  The report of that review is available at http://senate.gla.ac.uk/qa/review/reports/dace.pdf.  The Panel did not review the extent to which the recommendations had been implemented.

  • How will the education of students currently on degree programmes in the area be protected?

No degree programmes are offered through the Open Programme.  The majority of students are registered only for individual courses which complete within one academic year but a small number of students are registered either on the Certificate in Field Archaeology (the second year of the current programme is scheduled to be delivered in 2011/12) or the Certificate of Higher Education in Drug and Alcohol Practice run by STRADA.  For the students registered on these programmes the Panel would recommend that they are enabled to complete the programme for which they are registered through continuing their studies.

  • What is the impact across the University of withdrawing/reshaping this activity on the student experience and the development of new interdisciplinary undergraduate or taught postgraduate courses?

Withdrawing from or reshaping this activity would clearly impact on the students currently undertaking courses as part of the Open Programme and those in the community who wish to do so; the ability of other providers to meet that demand is discussed below.  A significant number of Open Programme students are repeat students, having taken courses before (either different courses or progressing through the different levels of a language).  While the audience for the Open Programme is primarily the wider community in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, a small number of undergraduate and postgraduate students enrol for courses.  Some undergraduate students credit Open Programme courses towards their degree studies: this feature is used by students graduating with a BA or with an Ordinary or General degree requiring courses at level 1 or 2 to give them a graduating curriculum.  Feedback from a number of Chief Advisers highlighted the benefit of this arrangement.  Students registered for the BEd degree in the School of Education are also able to take courses from the Open Programme as electives.  In the current year, 331 BEd students and 215 undergraduates from other parts of the University are enrolled in Open Programme courses.

The Panel was not made aware of Open Programme courses leading to new interdisciplinary undergraduate or taught postgraduate courses.  It is acknowledged though that staff involved in the Open Programme also contribute to the Community Development undergraduate and PGT programmes in the School of Education as well as to UG and PGT programmes in other Schools.

  • Are there alternative methods of addressing demand, including other providers  in the City of Glasgow, the West of Scotland, Scotland?

As part of the consultation exercise, the Panel contacted a range of other providers (included in the list of stakeholders at Appendix 1).  The University of Strathclyde is the single largest other provider of courses for the community (with c.2,500 enrolments on its Evening and Weekend Programme for Adults and c.4,000 enrolments on its Learning in Later Life Programme aimed at the over 50’s).  In addition, provision is offered by the other higher education institutions, by the further education colleges, local authorities and private providers.  Much of the provision by local authorities is focused on community learning and development rather than lifelong learning.  While some of the Open Programme content is similar to that provided by others, three clear messages were received by the consultation Panel:

  • There are a number of unique courses offered (these include Egyptology and the Certificate in Field Archaeology)
  • The Open Programme is highly valued
  • Substitute provision could not be delivered by existing providers.

Research

The core staff of the Open Programme are engaged in research with 12 staff associated with the Open Programme being returned in RAE2008: 10 in the Education Unit of Assessment (UoA 45) and one in each of Physics (UoA 19) and English Language and Literature (UoA 57).  Preparations for REF do not currently anticipate a change although smaller numbers are likely to be returned to the Education UoA.

  • How does the current research in the unit align with the priorities of the research councils or other major funders of research?
  • What would be the impact of withdrawing/reshaping this area on the University’s interdisciplinary research agenda?
  • To what extent does research in the unit inform the development of teaching programmes in the University?  Is this commensurate with an excellent research intensive university?

As indicated above, the research conducted by the Open Programme core staff is diverse and is not focused in one thematic area.  Withdrawal from or reduction of the Open Programme would not automatically imply withdrawal from any or all these research areas and so considerations of research impact are not directly relevant in this case.  That said, one of the research themes in the School of Education is Social Justice, Place and Lifelong Learning.  The point was made to the Panel that there is value in research and practice being collocated.

Internationalisation

  • Impact on global reach and reputation, including the recruitment of international students.

The Panel was made aware that a relatively small number of international students (including exchange and ERASMUS students) register on Open Programme courses to add to their experience at Glasgow.  The courses are not marketed specifically at international students with enrolments being purely opportunistic.

Language classes account for nearly 30% of the enrolments on the Open Programme.  The Panel was made aware that professionals in the Glasgow area often undertake Open Programme language courses as a form of CPD to enable them to contribute to the international strategies of their organisations.  There is potentially an indirect impact here on the international reach and reputation of the University; there is direct impact in the case of individuals who are staff of the University.

3.   Views of Stakeholders

  • Who are the stakeholders that will be affected by the proposed changes? What are their views? Can their needs or wishes be met in other ways if the proposed action is taken?

The Panel identified a large number of stakeholders associated with the Open Programme, both internal to the University and external.  A list of those consulted, including how they were contacted, appears at Appendix 1.  The Panel accepts that this list is not exhaustive and this point was highlighted through discussion at some of the open meetings with staff.  On the other hand, as a result of the extensive publicity the proposals on the Open Programme received in various media, several unsolicited submissions were received from other organisations.  In terms of direct impact, the stakeholders most affected by the proposed withdrawal from the Open Programme would be the current and prospective students.

The Panel received 417 submissions to the consultation mailbox (consultation-open-programme@glasgow.ac.uk); in addition, over 1,000 letters and e-mails were sent to the Principal and passed on to the Panel and over 300 to the Head of the College of Social Sciences.  Face to face meetings were organised separately for staff (c.50 staff attended over the four meetings) and students (c.300 students attended over those four meetings) and the Panel was aware that a webpage and a facebook site were actively promoted by students of the Open Programme.  We received a petition from the Save DACE campaign with 1,234 signatories, and also 76 individual testimonies.  Representations made to the Panel (as well as to the Principal and Head of College) were consistent, with the following being the most commonly cited:

  • The Open Programme provides a valued contribution to the regional community and is critical to how the University is seen locally. The programmes add to the University’s reputation. Many students are repeat students and there was much evidence of participation by our alumni
  • The programmes make a vital contribution to lifelong learning, often having a major impact on the life of the student
  • The courses are highly valued by the participants in terms of their quality, rigour, range, and the support available through the staff involved; respondents overwhelmingly rejected the notion of the courses being ‘recreational’
  • The courses offer access to education for a broad spectrum of the community (examples given included those recovering from mental illness, professionals with day jobs, individuals on low income with child-care responsibilities, individuals developing new interests in later life etc)
  • Benefits of undertaking classes extend beyond immediate benefit to the student: there are examples of benefits to the student’s employer as well as benefits to other sections of the community
  • The programmes build the confidence of students and can provide a way in to degree study (an alternative Access route)
  • The programmes offer valuable flexibility to students, being the primary means of part‐time study towards a degree
  • The programmes offered are of significantly higher quality than the competition because of the quality of the teaching and of the facilities offered: Moodle, IT facilities and the spacious classroom environment
  • The University should explore other means of delivering these classes to retain the provision – suggestions included increasing fees to achieve full cost recovery, spinning out the activity, or embedding the activity in the work of all Schools.

Tutors teaching on the courses were also very complimentary of the support provided by the core staff.  In particular our attention was drawn to the induction and annual development offered to the language tutors which included a focus on andragogy (the teaching of adults).

  • Are there other features arising from the University withdrawing from/reshaping this activity that Court should be mindful of in terms of the University’s impact on the national and regional community?

The Panel was struck by the level of interest from the community in the provision offered under the auspices of the Open Programme and the esteem in which the Open Programme is held.  It is clearly perceived as a key mechanism for the University’s engagement with the community and has a strong impact on the University’s reputation locally.  Court should be mindful of the negative impact of alienating the local community.

Within the current strategic plan, the University makes a commitment to Make an impact on the intellectual, social and cultural life, and economic success, of the City of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond.  With more than 4,000 students from the community enrolled in the Open Programme annually and on the basis of the submissions to the consultation there is no doubt that the Open Programme makes a positive impact on the intellectual, social and cultural life of the City and its surrounds.  By contributing to the personal and professional development of the community, it could be argued that the Open Programme indirectly contributes to the economic success of the City.

  1. 4.   Equality Implications

The Panel was keen to learn of the characteristics of the students enrolled on the Open Programme courses and, in particular, to learn whether the activity contributed or otherwise to the University’s widening participation.

While the detail is included in Appendix 2, in summary 63% of the Open Programme students were female and 37% male (this compares to the University student population as a whole (excluding the Open Programme) of 56% female and 44% male and the College of Social Sciences’ 62% female and 38% male).  The percentage of students born after 1st October 1950 (i.e. currently aged 60 or younger) was 58% and 42% were born before this date.  The ethnic origin of students was 95% white, 4% from other ethnic groups and 1% unknown, which reflects the ethnic composition of the Greater Glasgow area. The proportion of students who declared a disability was 7.5%, again consistent with the figures for the University as a whole.  There is a wide range of educational backgrounds: 56% of students hold graduate qualifications or above and 44% of students have a variety of different types of qualifications or have no qualifications.

An analysis was undertaken of the postcodes of students registered and compared to the home postcodes of the University’s Scottish undergraduates as well as to those of students participating in the University’s widening participation schemes; the results are shown in Table 3 below.

# students DACE 2010 proportion of complete Scottish postcodes DACE 2010 # UoG students who participated in theTop-Up Programme 2004-08 Proportion of those who participated in theTop-Up Programme 2004-08 # UoG students who participated in the Pre-University Summer School 2004-08 Proportion of those who participated in the Pre-University Summer School 2004-08 proportion of Scottish domiciled UoG students 2010 (Planning Services) proportion of Scottish domiciled UoG students 2009 (SFC Learning for All) proportion of Scottish domiciled students in HE 2009 (SFC Learning for All)
0-20% SIMD[3] 492 11.0% 158 29.8% 150 27.6% 10.1% 11.0% 11.7%
0-40% SIMD 1,043 23.4% 278 52.4% 243 44.8% 22.8% 25.3% 27.8%
>40% SIMD 3,419 76.6% 253 47.6% 300 55.2% 77.2% 74.7% 72.2%
total 4,462 531 543

Table 3.  Comparison of postcode data for Open Programme students with that of Top Up students, Summer School students and Scottish-domiciled UoG undergraduates

Data for the Open Programme participants is similar to that for the University as a whole.

The Panel’s attention was drawn to the large number of students on the Open Programme in receipt of an Individual Learning Account (ILA) award which contributes £200 to the cost of learning to any individual, on application, earning £22,000 or less per annum.  In addition the Panel noted that the Open Programme supports specific widening participation initiatives with local community groups.

  • Does the Equality Impact Assessment of the proposed changes require mitigating actions to be taken?

Consistent with the Equality Act 2010 an Equality Impact Assessment was undertaken associated with the SMG proposition to withdraw from some or all of the Open Programme: this considered the impact on the protected characteristics as these were demonstrated both by staff and students.  With regard to staff, comparisons of sex, age, ethnicity and disability profiles of those associated with the Open Programme were made with staff in the College of Social Sciences as well as the University as a whole and were found to be broadly similar.  Similar results were found for the Open Programme students with the exception of age: over 80% of Open Programme students were aged over 30 compared with 7.4% of students in the College of Social Sciences and 3.6% in the University as a whole.  Withdrawal from the Open Programme would therefore disadvantage those older learners in particular who wish to study but, nevertheless, do not wish to follow a structured programme of study leading to a degree.  While the Panel acknowledged this, no mitigating actions were felt to be necessary.

5.   Conclusion and Recommendations

  • The SMG proposition is that the current activity is not well aligned with the University’s strategy. Is there evidence that rebuts this proposition?

Within the current strategic plan, the University makes a commitment to Make an impact on the intellectual, social and cultural life, and economic success, of the City of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond.  The Consultation Panel has heard evidence that the Open Programme impacts considerably on the intellectual, social and cultural life of the City of Glasgow and its surrounding areas in the West of Scotland and, accordingly, recommends to SMG and to Court that the University does not withdraw the activity.  As a key visible component of the University’s engagement with its local community, ceasing it now would have a significant adverse impact on the University’s reputation.

The Panel also considered the question of whether continuation of the Open Programme was consistent with the University’s strategic aim of enhancing its position as one of the world’s great, broad based, research intensive universities.  In doing so, the Panel looked at the extent to which our comparator group within the UK, the Russell Group, has comparable provision.  Of the 19 other Russell Group universities, 17 offer some form of provision for adult learners with the University of Oxford offering the most extensive range of provision.  World leading US universities such as Harvard, Chicago and Caltech also offer similar provision.

While the work of the Panel focussed on the strategic fit, it also considered operational factors, policy issues, and outline income and expenditure flows associated with the Open Programme.  The following paragraphs outline the factors considered by the Panel and identify the specific recommendations that arise from these.  On the basis of the evidence considered, the overriding view of the Panel is that the current operational model needs to be changed, using as the basis for change the recommendations below.  This should be done with some urgency.

The core recommendation of the Panel to SMG and to Court is that the University continues to provide courses through the Open Programme but establishes a robust business model to enable this to be achieved (by end December 2011 at the latest) with implementation to commence no later than summer 2012.  The business model, with its accompanying business plan, should account for all income associated with the programme together with all direct and indirect costs such that the programme at least breaks even, with no reliance on the SFC funded places in the model.  It should also incorporate a well thought through pricing strategy for the provision that is progressive and recognises the diverse nature of the student community on the Open Programme as well as incorporating the additional recommendations made in this report.

The range of academic provision within the Open Programme is extensive both in terms of subject matter and academic level.  The three largest areas of provision, in terms of student numbers, are Languages, Art, and History and International Affairs.  Together, these account for over 60% of the student numbers on the Open Programme.  At the other end of the scale are Philosophy and Religious Studies, Computing, and Media and Film Studies which, together, attract less than 4% of the Open Programme student population.  While these figures give some sense of the general demand profile for Open Programme courses, they provide little insight into whether the provision addresses the demand in these areas in a viable way.

The Panel did not get the sense that the Open Programme was marketed in the most effective manner either externally or internally or that its profile was as high as it could be: information on the programme was difficult to find, including via the University’s website.  The Panel therefore recommends that consideration is given to marketing the Open Programme effectively including reacting to market demands.  The Panel notes that daytime and evening languages courses are offered to the community by the Language Centre as well as through the Open Programme; irrespective of their location and reporting structure, the opportunity should be taken to market all such provision at the University together.  An integrated marketing strategy should be developed and implemented, raising the profile of the provision and establishing a strong public-facing identity, no later than January 2012.  This should include a coherent pricing strategy which recognises the diversity of the student body and includes appropriate recognition for ILA200 purposes.

The Panel was conscious that knowledge of the Open Programme within the University was poor and that the Open Programme was not well integrated with other provision.  The SRC drew attention to the Open Programme’s ‘lack of corporateness within the University’ and the surprisingly few connections to those areas in which it teaches in large volume.  In taking forward the development and marketing of the Open Programme in the timescales identified, the Panel recommends that attention should be given to significantly improving the understanding of the Open Programme within the University, its integration with the rest of the University, and identifying and developing synergies.

Significant opportunities also exist to develop the programme from its provision of daytime and evening courses, including weekend day events, to include inter alia high quality Summer Schools attracting visitors to Glasgow and the West of Scotland as well as local residents.  Such provision is offered by a number of prestigious Universities and it is the view of the Panel that, thus far, Glasgow has missed an opportunity.  It is recommended that the Open Programme is developed to include inter alia such a programme of Summer School activities, ideally for offer from summer 2012.

The Panel was advised that the indicative threshold number of students to allow a course or event to run is 12 (with a few exceptions) yet around 33% of the courses/events run with numbers of less than that.  In the area of Computing, for example, all of the courses currently have less than 12 students registered whereas most of the courses offered in Philosophy and Religious studies run with more than 12 students.  The average number of students per class is just over 15 which is relatively low and potentially unsustainable in the longer term.  There is clearly considerable scope for improved management of the portfolio.  It is recommended that the current arrangements for programme management are revised to ensure that appropriate threshold numbers for individual courses are identified and kept to.  The Panel noted that introduction of Campus Solutions through the Student Lifecycle Project will simplify administration and improve management information although it was noted that this will not impact on the Open Programme until 2012/13.  In passing, the Panel also noted the different credit ratings associated with the Languages element of the CertHE provision compared with others based on apparently equivalent student effort.  It is recommended that the credit rating of the CertHE language courses is reviewed prior to the start of AY 2012/13 to ensure alignment within a coherent framework and consistent with existing arrangements implemented in the rest of the University.

The Panel’s attention was drawn to the funded places (ftes) associated with the Programme and their history.  There is an historic allocation of funds to the University for adult and continuing education which can be traced back to the UFC allocation in 1994.  A block grant for Continuing Personal Education made at that time was converted into 285 credit-bearing ftes (in a range of funding subject groups) within the main teaching grant in 1996/97.  Additionally, 96ftes were generated between 2001 and 2003 as part of the Scottish Funding Council part-time initiative and these also became part of the SFC Teaching Grant (T grant).  There is, therefore, a number of funded places based on provision associated with the Open Programme in the University’s T grant (currently in excess of 350 funded places are attributed to the Open Programme).  The non-controlled Undergraduate element of the T grant allocation (of which part is used to support the Open Programme) is not restricted and, under SFC guidelines, the University is entitled to use this as it wishes to support undergraduate learning and teaching.  It is the view of the School of Education that doing so would imply a use rather different from that for which the funded places were originally intended.

In addition to the historical perspective, a number of other factors are relevant when considering the allocation of T grant to this area.  A typical full-time undergraduate student supported by a funded place will study for 120 credits in one year.  If the total number of students on Open Programme CertHE credit bearing courses is converted to a FTE figure, it equates to around 263fte.  However, around 56% of the students studying on the Open Programme already hold graduate qualifications or above and might, ordinarily, not be considered as eligible for funding intended for undergraduate activity.  Within the areas of its provision supported by non-controlled funded places, the University is only able to support 89% of its provision via funded places, with 11% fees only students.  This fees only figure will increase to around 20% in the coming year due to efficiency gains agreed as part of the settlement between the Higher Education sector and the Scottish Government for 2011/12.  All of these factors suggest that the Open Programme is disproportionately supported by the T grant when compared with other parts of the University.  In determining how the T grant is distributed within the University, it is important to recognise the way in which it supports specialised core teaching and learning capabilities and facilities within Schools and Colleges.  On a strategic level it could therefore be argued that a more effective use of the T grant would be to flow it to areas of core provision, including in the School of Education, diluting the proportion of fees only students and allowing the strengthening of these areas.  The Panel recommends that T grant support for the Open Programme is phased out such that the Open Programme becomes self-supporting from fees charged with minimal or, ideally, no support from the T grant as early as possible and certainly no later than the third year of the business plan.

In considering the finances associated with the Open Programme, the Panel received three different versions, using three different assumptions, causing concern among the membership at the lack of transparency. This should be addressed during the development of the business model for the Open Programme in such a way that all income associated with the programme together with all direct and indirect costs are fully captured so that, as a minimum, the Programme breaks even.

In recommending that the University did not withdraw from the Open Programme, the Panel spent some time considering whether or not the provision should

  • continue to be packaged together or be separated, for example into language provision and other courses or, indeed, whether Schools should take responsibility for ‘their’ provision

and, if the provision is maintained as a single entity, should it

  • be located in the School of Education within the College of Social Sciences or exist in a separate unit e.g. within University Services?

The Panel had been made aware of the strong ethos of the programme, including the exemplary training of tutors, and therefore recommends that the Open Programme should be maintained as a single entity rather than broken into its subject components.  Such an arrangement will also maximise the efficiency of administrative arrangements.

The issue of the location is not, however, straightforward.  It is clear that, while the School of Education (Executive and Council) feels that the School is the appropriate location, the Open Programme does not fit well with the overall strategic direction of the College of Social Sciences.  In addition, the consultation has highlighted that levels of awareness between the Open Programme and areas of the University outside of the School of Education are not as good as they could be.  While the Panel sees benefit in providing the theory and practice of lifelong learning in close proximity, the over-riding outcome should be that the Open Programme develops, is financially and educationally sustainable, meeting the needs of its stakeholders, and benefits from strong leadership.  On this basis, it is the view of the Panel that the physical location of the core team that supports the Open Programme is a secondary issue.  Of more significance is the location of the core team within the organisational structure of the University and, in this respect, the Panel recommends that the Open Programme with its core team becomes an independent self-supporting unit within University Services with effect from 1 August 2011; this may or may not include the Language Centre. The Panel discussed appropriate line management arrangements noting the current role of the Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching).  As a unit within University Services, it would be subject to the same academic quality arrangements as the rest of the University, ultimately under the auspices of the VP (Learning and Teaching). The Open Programme (like the Language Centre as presently established) would therefore exist as a unit with a strong business focus and promoting a positive student experience.  For this to happen, and for the activity to be sustainable, careful consideration needs to be given to the constitution of the core team.  Many of the individuals currently associated with the Open Programme have multi-faceted roles that include research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities outside of the Open Programme.  In determining the shape of the future core team, it will be necessary to look at both the balance of activity of each individual currently associated with the Open Programme to determine where they would best be placed within the University structure and the leadership needs of the Open Programme into the future.  The panel therefore recommends that the business model should define the future shape of the Open Programme core team including appropriate arrangements for leadership and management of the Programme.

It was noted that the three Access Programmes were currently offered alongside the Open programme; the Panel recommends that the Access Programmes continue to be offered alongside the Open Programme, with shared leadership and administrative support, rather than, e.g., transferring the Access programmes to RIO.

Summary of recommendations

  1. The core recommendation of the Panel to SMG and to Court is that the University continues to provide courses through the Open Programme but that it establishes a robust business model, and accompanying business plan, to enable this to be achieved (by end December 2011 at the latest) with implementation commencing no later than summer 2012.  The business model should incorporate all of the recommendations made in this report.
  1. An integrated marketing strategy should be developed, raising the profile of the Open Programme and establishing a strong public-facing identity, no later than January 2012.  This should include a coherent pricing strategy which recognises the diversity of the student body and includes appropriate recognition for ILA200 purposes.
  1. In taking forward the development and marketing of the Open Programme in the timescales identified attention should be given to significantly improving the understanding of the Open Programme within the University, its integration with the rest of the University, and identifying and developing synergies.
  1. The Open Programme should be developed to include inter alia a programme of Summer School activities for visitors to Glasgow and Scotland as well as to local residents, ideally for offer from summer 2012.
  1. The current arrangements for programme management should be revised to ensure that appropriate threshold numbers for individual courses are identified and kept to.
  1. The credit rating of the CertHE courses should be reviewed prior to the start of AY 2012/13 to ensure alignment within a coherent framework and consistent with the existing arrangements implemented in the rest of the University.
  1. The T grant support for the Open Programme should be phased out such that the Open Programme becomes self-supporting from fees charged with minimal or, ideally, no support from the T grant as early as possible and no later than the third year of the business plan.
  1. The Open Programme should be kept as a single unit rather than broken into its subject components.
  1. An independent, self-supporting unit should be established within University Services with effect from 1 August 2011.  The business model should define the future shape of the Open Programme core team and should include appropriate arrangements for leadership and management of the Programme.
  1. The Access programmes should continue to be offered alongside the Open Programme with shared leadership and administrative support.

[1] Level 1 courses are notionally equivalent to first year undergraduate standard; level 2 to second year

[2] Note that this total is greater than previous figure for enrolments as it was extracted a few days after initial data analysis and therefore will include new students who have enrolled on courses.

[3] Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation: the lower the % index the greater the deprivation

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