ScreenSkills response to the Augar review

Employers must be at the heart of the quality assessment of courses

ScreenSkills, the skills body for the film, TV, VFX and games industries, today welcomes recognition for further education (FE) alongside higher education (HE) in the Augar review of post-18 education and funding, but also sounds a note of caution.

We are pleased that the independent panel emphasises the importance of building a skills and education infrastructure that meets the needs of industry and aspirations of individuals across further as well as higher education. Whilst for many taking a high quality degree course is a good route into the booming screen industries, for others apprenticeships or other forms of good quality further education and training provide a better alternative. Quality, relevance and value for money are more important differentiators than whether the course is an HE or FE one.

Augar directly addresses the issue of the quality of degree courses. ScreenSkills welcomes that, but calls on the Government to ensure that employers are involved in defining what quality and relevance means in that context. But we would go further and argue that FE courses too should be subject to the same scrutiny from industry, to ensure the highest quality learner outcomes and preparation for the workplace.

Further, the definition of high quality, relevance and value for money needs to be more than a crude measure of average salary. Although jobs in the screen industries are typically better paid than those in the economy as a whole, narrow definitions of quality based on salary risks skewing both the opportunities available and the capacity of the education system to deliver courses that contribute to increasing and diversifying the talent pipeline into screen careers.

Seetha Kumar, CEO of ScreenSkills, said: “We already work with screen industry experts to quality mark degree courses that give young people a relevant and effective preparation for working in the industry, and we are now extending that successful approach to FE.”

Turning to the issue of student funding, she added:

 “When looking at the value for money of courses in the creative sector, different funding rates must reflect the very real cost of developing specialist skills. Courses in subjects such as visual effects and animation which require artistic and STEM skills, and also craft and tech, are often just as expensive as pure STEM subjects to deliver. That needs to be reflected in the funding available for degrees, apprenticeship standards and other forms of education and training.”

We welcome the recommendation to extend funding support to students studying for level 4, 5 and 6 qualifications, irrespective of whether they are studying at an FE or HE institution. We believe this could be important in helping open up and diversify industries including our own.

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