Giving young people a chance to aim higher
AN EAST Riding school has become the UK's first state secondary to offer degree-level qualifications.
The newest and smallest higher education institution in the country is now open for business at South Holderness Technology College, Preston.
It is offering a business course and enterprise programme, giving students the chance to develop their own business while studying.
Neil Pinder, the school's director of post-16 education, confirmed it is the first state secondary in the UK to offer foundation degrees.
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He said: "There is a great sense of excitement in the local community as well as in the school.
"Our students feel a sense of kudos having a higher education centre. We are quite unique in that."
The college made the move because some students felt they had limited opportunities in education and training on leaving the sixth form.
Some were also turning away from higher education because they were unable to afford £9,000 university fees.
Mr Pinder said: "The closest universities that could make commuting possible had already increased their fees to £9,000 and local FE colleges were charging two thirds of that.
"We charge £4,500 and that includes all resources needed and help with transport costs."
Students at South Holderness can now study for a higher national certificate (HNC) and higher national diploma (HND) in business, while developing their own business alongside.
The Level 5 qualification, developed in partnership with exam board Edexcel, is equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree.
Students then have the option of topping up their HND to a full degree elsewhere.
Mr Pinder believes it will boost students' job prospects at a time of high unemployment in Hull.
He said: "Hull has one of the lowest business start-up rates from 64 cities. It also has one of the lowest percentages of higher qualifications and the lowest annual earnings of any other city. As the fortunes of Holderness are entwined with that of Hull, the opportunities for our students have been of paramount concern."
Twelve students have signed up for the first year and the college expects the number to grow as high as 50 within two years.
Mr Pinder said: "The course allows students to follow the HNC/HND programme, gain high-quality work experience, and develop internship working and paid vacation work. We have had a highly enthusiastic response from local businesses and hope to gain more support as the newly identified enterprise zones become populated."
Students will have the chance to study the HNC and HND components of the course over two years.
Mr Pinder said: "Our hope is that many will have developed such excellent working relationships that they will receive job offers at the end of their programme.
"Others may choose to follow a one-year top-up course at a university that allows them to achieve a full first degree, rather than a foundation degree."
An enterprise co-ordinator will support students in developing their own business idea alongside their studies.
Student Lydia Tevenan, 18, is on the HNC course.
She said: "After my A-levels I was thinking about university but the £9,000 fees were really expensive.
"This is a great opportunity to get a degree because I can top it up at university."
Fellow student Haroon Hashmi, 18, said: "I didn't quite get the grades for the university course I wanted, so I decided to do this instead."