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Bradford Colloquium Explores CATS

Bradford College hosted a Colloquium in March on the subject of CATS, the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme which enables learners to build up credits and transfer these between providers as they build toward a qualification.


The Colloquium, one of a series being developed by David Smith, Dean of Higher Education at Bradford College, came about as a result of the HEART led project, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The project outcomes will simplify the progression from Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) awards into a number of HEART partner programmes and offer transparent credit transfer options.  The launch event aimed at CMI and ILM centres and learners takes place on 26 June 2013 full details and registration can be found by clicking here.
At the Colloquium, partners reported on progress in the CATS Pilot Project and explored the issues. In addition to College staff, the universities of East London, Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield were represented. Anthony Hudson, from the University of East London and one of the academics researching CATS, gave the keynote presentation. Other presenters included Ian McGregor Brown from the HEART Partnership and Roger Cunliffe from Bradford College’s Higher Education Business and Management team.
Tony Hudson is Research Manager for Continuum, based at the University of East London. He explains:
“CATS bring benefits to learners, institutions and employers. Yet despite this apparent win, win, win scenario, it is likely that learners are accumulating credit which remains ‘un-transacted’ and consequently levels of credit transfer are not as high as they could be. One explanation for this could be that we need better information, advice and guidance. Through the government’s commitment to vocational education and training, and with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, we have the chance to re-invigorate the CAT scheme, and to build up cross-sectoral collaboration between institutions, with employers and most importantly learners.”
The project is one of a number of initiatives being funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), as part of its initiative to reform Further Education and increase progression from basic levels of education into higher education. “The BIS funded pilot projects, of which the HEART project is one, have already demonstrated early success through active collaboration and consultation across the West Yorkshire region,” says Tony Hudson.


The Colloquium
The primary aim of the Colloquium was to drive the debate toward action so that CATS becomes a reality rather than a mere concept. “We believe that by embracing the practice of CATS, practitioners, providers, businesses and learners may find real value in credits and thereby support enhanced progression,” says David Smith. “If CATS can become a reality it offers economic benefits for all. For example, it makes progression pathways much clearer and encourages more part-time learners to enter higher education and so helps stem the recent and significant decline in applications from this group.”


Welcoming Involvement
Additional curriculum areas for development of CATS approaches were identified during the Colloqium and Bradford College are particularly interested in taking forward action. “We are interested in connecting with and learning from others interested in this area,” says David Smith. “Whether you are a student, employer, teacher, researcher or from an awarding body, we hope you will get in touch and come along to the next Colloquium. There is clearly growing interest in this area, and the CATS Pilot Project has given us a valuable opportunity to explore the issues associated with implementing CATS and to make recommendations.”

For further information and to attend the next Colloquium contact David Smith, Dean of Higher Education, Bradford College,