Introduction/Aims The project will create a number of flexible progression pathways built around credit accumulation and transfer from the Association of Accounting Technician (AAT) Level 4 professional course onto a new Foundation Degree in Accounting and Business, accredited by the University of Surrey.
Barrier(s) The professional body AAT has brokered routes to achieve advanced standing onto Year 2 of HE programmes for Level 4 AAT at a number of HEIs this tends to be direct onto full 3 or 4 year undergraduate programmes. What is less established is a progression route that offers credit transfer from the Level 4 AAT onto a FD/HND offer.
What we intend to do/Proposition Our market research indicates that there is demand for flexible pathways for part time, work-based learners who have traditionally followed a part time AAT professional qualification route to receive credit for that award as part of an FD programme which also incorporates a broader business programme. Similarly, we can evidence demand for a full time route onto an FD that provides the opportunity as part of the programme to achieve a recognised professional qualification such as AAT. We are seeking to validate via our HE partner – the University of Surrey – an innovative curriculum design as part of this project will provide a CATS-based framework for students to achieve potentially 3 awards as part of the programme (a Foundation Degree, the AAT Level 4 professional qualification and also an industry qualification in SAP). Year 1 modules will include the AAT units and two broader modules, one of which can work-based. Year 2 modules will include broader business modules, two of which can be work-based. Progression to top-up to a degree will also be provided at the University of Surrey and possibly elsewhere will also be provided.
Rationale/Policy Context Accounting technician level skills are also particularly important to supporting the growth of SMEs that are vital to the growth of the UK economy and of the expansion of employment. Higher-level accounting technician skills allied to business enterprise skills are also a source of self-employment and the college has seen a growth in demand for AAT courses at the higher level from individuals who are setting upon their own enterprises. The development of a fuller portfolio of accounting technician programmes to Level 5/6 will directly support this growth in demand, provide flexible pathways to higher level skills and support economic growth in the region. It will also contribute to supporting responses to white-collar unemployment amongst the young and for older workers.
Evaluation The project will be externally evaluated and an external consultancy will be appointed to undertake this work. The evaluation will be overseen by the Project Steering Group that will include the professional body (AAT), local HEIs and if possible, employers.
The evaluation will focus on the following key measures of success:
Student perceptions and indicators of the value of the progression opportunities and the CATS arrangements
Stakeholder perceptions and indicators of the value of the initiative in terms of supporting their own organisational objectives
The fitness for purpose of the process and its transferability for the construction of other progression arrangements between partner institutions
Transferability/Scale-ability The outcomes of the project will be a sustainable and flexible vocational progression route for learners from a successful and expanding programme onto a higher level HE programme underpinned by a robust credit transfer arrangement. The project will also test the principle and viability of the recognition and transfer of units from an externally-validated professional body onto a HE programme
The successful implementation of this project will support the transfer of the credit mechanisms more widely in the sector. We will work with the professional body to disseminate the project to other colleges offering AAT programme. This could involve providing information about the credit transfer framework arrangements established through this project on the AAT website and offering help and advice to college interested in developing similar arrangements in their own institution.