Comparing Professional and Academic Qualifications as a Route to Institutional Curriculum Change


  • Chris Garbett Leeds Beckett University (Retd.)



There are many current initiatives concerned with achieving institutional changes to curricula. These include, inter alia, various versions of online learning, distance learning and work-based learning. This paper considers blending academic curricula and qualifications with professional body curricula and qualifications as a possible way of achieving cost-effective curricula change.

The author’s home institution currently delivers Academic Qualifications in Facilities Management (FM); a BSc (Hons) and an MSc. The institution also delivers the Professional Qualifications for the relevant professional body, the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), at levels 4, 5 and 6.All qualifications and awards are delivered by web-based distance learning.

This paper analyses the content and assessment of the Professional Qualification and compares the Professional Qualification with the equivalent Academic Qualification. Using both quantitative and qualitative analysis the paper finds that the Professional Qualification is more challenging and more rigorous than the Academic Qualification. The expectations of the learners from the professional body are higher than the expectations of the students from the university.

The implications of this finding are then considered. Given that the Professional Qualification is more challenging and rigorous, could the institutional curricula be changed so that the Professional Qualification could be integrated into an Academic Qualification, thus opening a vocational route for a degree?

The paper concludes with a brief consideration of the financial costs and other implications of such an institutional curricula change.

Author Biography

Chris Garbett, Leeds Beckett University (Retd.)

Chris Garbett is former Prinicipal Lecturer and Director of the Centre For Facilities Management at Leeds Beckett University. He has written and lectured extensively on innovation in education.

Now retired, he lives on a canal boat in the Midlands with his lovely wife and a collie dog.


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