Worldwise News

HE in Colleges: International Perspectives on Opportunities and Challenges

Monday, 08 July 2019

Higher education is now an important dimension of provision in what have traditionally been referred to as ‘further education’ colleges in the UK. It has also been an important aspect of provision in community colleges in North America, both in the USA and Canada. This seminar will draw on chapters written for the recently published New Frontiers for College Education: International Perspectives (Gallacher & Reeve 2019), to which all of the presenters have contributed. Together they will explore some of the issues which the presence of higher education in the college sector now raises. These include whether colleges have an important role in widening access to higher education, or whether they ‘divert’ students from less socially and economically advantaged backgrounds into lower status forms of higher education, as Brint and Karabel have suggested. There is also the question of the type of higher education they are providing. Whereas traditionally these colleges had an important role in providing vocational education and training, has this been eroded as more provision facilitates progression to bachelor degree study in universities, and are these courses becoming more ‘academic’ in nature? Alternatively, to what extent has the continued role of Foundation Degrees, HNC/Ds, the more recent higher, degree and graduate apprenticeships, and the ‘applied’ degrees in Ontario, enabled colleges to meet a need for higher level vocational qualifications?

This seminar will draw on papers from England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada, in considering these issues, and the potential which these colleges can have in contributing to key debates regarding the future of higher education and of vocational education and training.



Jim Gallacher, Glasgow Caledonian University & Fiona Reeve, Open University – ‘New frontiers for college education: reconciling competing agendas'

Ann-Marie Bathmaker, University of Birmingham - 'Seeking distinction and addressing inequalities: where next for college higher education in England?'

Sheila Riddell, University of Edinburgh - ‘Social justice and widening access to higher education in Scotland: the role of Scottish colleges'

Adele Whelan, Economics Analysis Division, Federal Communications Commission - ‘Further education as a route to higher education in Ireland'

Gavin Moodie, University of Toronto and Leesa Wheelahan, University of Toronto - 'How are "applied degrees” applied: lessons from Ontario?

Presentations will be followed by the launch of the recently published New Frontiers for College Education: International Perspectives (Gallacher & Reeve 2019).

The college sector is facing a growing number of new challenges caused by technological change, globalisation and the growth of mass higher education. New Frontiers for College Education considers the impact these changes have had and explores the developing role of college education in countries throughout the world. Whilst analysing the issues associated with providing high-quality vocational education and training, the book also reflects on the role of colleges in widening access to both further and higher education. 


Jim Gallacher is Emeritus Professor of Lifelong Learning in Glasgow Caledonian University and Distinguished Viating Professor, Capital Normal University Beojing. Current research interests: widening access to further and higher education; the changing roles of colleges; and strengthening vocational education. He is the co-editor of New Languages and Landscapes of Higher Education (OUP 2017) and New Frontiers for College Education: International Perspectives, co-edited with Fiona Reeve (Routledge 2019). He was an adviser to the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into Lifelong Learning and a Board member of the Scottish Funding Council. He is currently a member of the Board of City of Glasgow College.

Fiona Reeve is a Senior Lecturer in Lifelong Learning at the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at the Open University. Her current research interests include vocational higher education within both Further Education and Higher Education institutions. She contributes to programmes within the Childhood and Youth Studies area of the University. She co-edited, with Jim Gallacher, New Frontiers for College Education: International Perspectives (Routledge 2019).

Ann-Marie Bathmaker is Professor of Vocational and Higher Education at the University of Birmingham, and Visiting Professor, Centre for Development Studies, University of the Free State, South Africa. She is editor of the Journal of Vocational Education and Training. Her research focuses on questions of equity and inequalities in vocational, post-compulsory and higher education. Current and recent research includes: Governance in further education across the four countries of the UK (the Governance project); HE, social mobility and social class (the Paired Peers project), rural and township youth participation in HE in South Africa (the Miratho project), young people’s experience of University Technical Colleges in England, and constructions of knowledge in general vocational qualifications. She was the specialist advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility School to Work (2015-2016).

Sheila Riddell is Director of the Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, University of Edinburgh, and was previously Director of the Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research, University of Glasgow.  After seven years teaching English in a Dorset secondary school, she undertook a PhD at the University of Bristol on the topic of gender and subject option choice.   She moved to Scotland in 1988 and since then has researched and written extensively in the fields of education, employment and social care, focusing on disability, gender and social class.  Sheila has served on a number of government committees and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Sheila’s current research focuses on the rights of children with additional support needs and access issues in higher education.

Dr Adele Whelan is a Research Officer in the Economics Analysis Division. Her research interests are in the areas of labour economics, the economics of education, and industrial organisation. She obtained her PhD in Economics from Maynooth University in 2014 and has previously held roles at Maynooth University and University College Dublin. Recently, she contributed to a major study of the Further Education and Training in Ireland and a European Commission funded project Strategic Transitions for Youth Labour in Europe (STYLE) examining youth education and skills mismatch.”

Gavin Moodie is adjunct professor in the Department of Leadership, Higher, and Adult Education at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He is interested in higher education policy, and in particular, in international comparisons of the relations between college and university education. His book From vocational to higher education: an international perspective was published by Open University Press in 2008 and his most recent book Universities, disruptive technologies, and continuity in higher education: the impact of information revolutionswas published by Palgrave Macmillan in  2016.

Leesa Wheelahan is a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, where she holds the William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership. She has published widely on higher vocational education, the role of theoretical knowledge in curriculum, the marketisation and privatisation of vocational education, and social justice in tertiary education. She leads the ‘Pathways to Education and Work’ research group at OISE.






Network: Technical, Professional and Vocational Higher Education
Date(s): Monday, 08 July 2019
Times: 11:00 - 16:00
Signup Deadline: Thursday, 04 July 2019
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
Lunch Provided: Yes
Spaces Left: Places available
Prices: Members: Free, Guests: £75.00

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