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Email. heart@leeds.ac.uk

Building on the success of the CATS colloquium, held at Bradford College earlier this year, we were delighted that so many partners and businesses attended a follow up event at Bradford College on Wednesday 30th October 2013.

This is the latest in a programme of ‘free to attend’ conferences and colloquia held at Bradford College over recent years, which has seen academics and experts from a range of universities, colleges and business organisations come together to share ideas, best practice and scholarly debate.

The Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) funded Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) Pilot Project managed by the Association of Colleges and led by HEART has resulted in an online database of credit transfer options from Chartered Management Institute and Institute of Leadership & Management qualifications to partner degree and masters programmes. This is currently a unique offer in England.

Speaking at the CATS colloquium, David Smith, Dean of Higher Education at Bradford College said: “We are really pleased to host this event. This is a culmination of work that has been going on for over 12 months, led by HEART’s partnership and funded by Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Association of Colleges.  It has been a great opportunity to bring together all the various partners involved in the project, so we could look at the way in which credit accumulation and transfers have been integrated into the different partner institutions and the kind of barriers they have experienced. It’s been extremely valuable!”

Credit accumulation and transfer schemes (CATS) can be extremely beneficial to employers, students and education institutions, not least in reducing the time and overall cost associated with gaining a higher level qualification. The CATS system allows students to build up credit in stages by studying for short periods at different institutions and then combining these credit points to achieve a qualification.

There is growing evidence that many students who build up credit points in this way are unaware that they can put them together to gain a more substantial qualification.  In this context, academics and experts are increasingly seeking to build on the model and processes developed during the pilot scheme in order to develop their own framework.  This follow-up to the first CATS Colloquium explored the potential for its application to other curriculum areas, sectors and professions.  The ultimate aim is to encourage universities and colleges to recognise the value and potential of CATS; and to secure additional progression and credit exemption agreements, offering swifter completion and reduced fees for those progressing to their institutions.

The colloquium aimed to enhance CATS practice, supporting practitioners, providers, businesses and learners to find real transferable value in credits and thereby support enhanced progression.  Manuel Souto-Otero, author of the recent HEA review of CATS policy and practice and Aileen Ponton, Chief Executive of the Scottish Credit & Qualification Framework (SCQF), a leading nation in CATS policy and practice, offered help through their keynotes to frame discussions and to set the context for future actions.

Speaking at the event, Aileen Ponton, Chief Executive of SCQF said: “I was delighted to be asked to contribute to the CATS Colloquium. It was of course interesting to share experiences in Scotland in terms of progress to date and challenges still to address in relation to credit transfer.  Equally, it was hugely useful both to hear how people responded to that and to take part in the very stimulating discussion which followed.”

Ian McGregor Brown, HEART Manager concluded: “We are trying to support local businesses to increase skills within their workforce to help drive the economy of the region.  We are the only region in England with a database where individual learners, managers, businesses or anyone in the world can go to and compare qualifications.  The whole idea of today’s event is to make it easier for individuals and businesses to access the qualifications and support we can offer them.  We do so in a way that is transparent and enables their learners to qualify more quickly and at a lower cost in these current austere times.”

Heart Partners