Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Profiling Foundation degree courses

Foundation Degree Forward (FDF) has responsibility for raising the profile of foundation degrees among the business and student communities. FDF works closely with key employers and the higher education sector in helping them forge mutually beneficial working partnerships. Funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), FDF was established in NI just four years ago.

Many people often confuse foundation degrees with foundation courses. It is important to establish from the beginning that foundation degrees are actually university-validated degree programmes which offer excellent work based alternatives to traditional classroom learning. A key feature of foundation degrees and a major reason for their success, is the fact that employers work closely with colleges and universities in designing the course content, which ensures that the degree addresses sector skills gaps and is completely relevant to employer needs.

Possessing a foundation degree has a number of clear advantages. Firstly, foundation degrees are attractive in that they could help you move up the career ladder at work, branch out into a new career, return to work after a career break or gain a university-level degree that almost certainly will make you more attractive  to employers.

There are some 75 foundation degrees available in NI, with a number in development.

Lesson idea

Dividing the class up into different groups for discussion, let your students explore the advantages and disadvantages of FDs against traditional degree programmes

Below is an example of a Foundation Degree course on offer at South West College, Dungannon


Foundation Degree in Construction Engineering

Duration (30 weeks Per Year): 2 Yrs Full Time (3 days p/w) 3Yrs PT (1Day+1Eve p/w)

Campus: Dungannon Awarding Body: University of Ulster

Entry Requirements: 80 UCAS tariff points to include at least one specified subject at level D or above at GCE/VCE ‘A’ Level, together with a minimum of 5 passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include English Language and Mathematics. OR A BTEC National Diploma or AVCE Award, with distinctions and merits in most units or another qualification deemed to be appropriate by the admissions tutor


Students will acquire a thorough grounding in the key concepts with a strong emphasis on the practical skills required in the construction industry. The course can enhance career development and employment opportunities in a wide spectrum of construction related industries.

Course Content:

Sustainable Technology 1 & 2 Mathematics & Structures Environmental Science & Materials Building Services & Renewable Energy Introduction to CAD / IT Construction Surveying/Digital Surveying Measurement & Construction Economics Measurement and Costing Construction Site Management Law and Construction Contract Maintenance and Adaptation Work Based Learning (6 Month Placement)


Relevant Honours Degree

Career Opportunities:

The Foundation Degree graduate may perform in a technical capacity and aspire to a professional qualification and career in any of the following functions:

Building Control Maintenance Management

Building Asset Management Project Planning

Building Surveying Project Management

Construction Management Purchasing

Contract Surveying Quality Management

Cost and Production Control Research & Development

Environmental Engineering Safety Management

Estimating & Tendering Site Engineering

General Management Site Management

Inspection Value Engineering

Contact Info: Richard Dougan

Mobile No. 07921143010

E mail:

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