This paper considers the problems and possibilities which arise in the interface between two policy agendas: that of sixth form and further education in England and that of the higher education university sector. I contextualize the argument in the first part of the paper by drawing on the historical and contemporary specificities of the sixth form academic route to higher education in England. I trace the different policy discourses and directions in the sector and the problems and possibilities they open up. I then go on to consider the skills policy agenda in England and the impact this is having on the further education sector. I explore how the further/ higher education policy interface has resulted in increasing complexities in the qualification system, the contestation of the boundaries between academic and vocational education, and an intensification of focus on issues of academic standards and quality. I explore these issues in relation to policy discourses of
widening participation, the knowledge economy and the discourse of neo-liberalism. At the same time higher education policy initiatives have required the university system to grapple with incipient massification. This has lead to complex intersections and contested policy outcomes.
|Keywords:||Further Education Policy, Higher Education Policy, Equity, Meritocracy, Widening Participation, Skills, Discourse|
University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, UK
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