Not just a lick of paint!

17 May 2021

The CIPP’s pre-eminent foundation degrees are being refreshed with new content rolled out in autumn 2021. Dr Sue Smith EdD MA BEd FHEA FCMI CMgr Assoc CIPD, ACIPP, CIPP education director, reveals the redevelopment progress

The CIPP’s Foundation Degrees are highly coveted within the payroll and pensions industry and recognised as benchmark qualifications. Both the Foundation Degree in Payroll Management and the Foundation Degree in Pensions Administration and Management are currently going through a modernisation project to ensure they continue delivering the best quality content possible and assisting payroll and pensions professionals who wish to carve out their career paths. This modernisation process will not devalue previous versions of these qualifications but is simply a review and refresh process to ensure current industry standards are being reflected.

The Foundation Degree in Payroll Management was initially developed more than twenty years ago: originally as the BTEC Diploma in Payroll Management and becoming the Foundation Degree in Payroll Management in 2007. The Foundation Degree in Pensions Administration and Management was launched in 2008. Both degrees are currently awarded by the University of Worcester.

Following the board’s consideration, a series of taskforce groups were held throughout 2018 to gather feedback on the Foundation Degree programmes from a variety of stakeholders, including tutors, students, recruitment agents, employers, bureau employers, industry professionals, academics, and finance and HR (human resources) professionals. Additional data was gathered by an independent research company conducting a survey, and the CIPP looked at relevant data from the annual markett insight survey. Phone calls were undertaken by the CIPP to drill deeper and find more information about what was required and what was desired by consumers, academic partners, and stakeholders across the industry.

Once a programme is validated by an academic partner, it can be time-consuming and potentially costly to make changes to its structure and content; major changes require a process of revalidation to ensure it remains fit for purpose and that the university is still prepared to validate the award. These parameters meant we were concerned with ensuring the material and delivery were addressed but that the architecture of the course, the learning outcomes and the assessment strategy, largely remained in place. At an initial project meeting in 2019 which comprised key personnel from the University of Worcester, the Heart of Worcestershire College, and senior leaders at the CIPP, the process for embarking on the programme development was agreed. This was to ensure that development on the working programmes would not compromise the current validation status, as students were still studying the programmes whilst redevelopment work was underway.

In addition to the recommendations provided by participants from the research undertaken, the CIPP were keen to build on this and inform the programme with industry professionals’ and practitioners’ views and ways of working. ‘Industry experts’ were invited to collaborate during the proposal and build phases for the new material, ensuring that the team involved in developing the programmes were subject matter experts from both academia and the payroll industry.

In July 2019, the first invitations went to identified subject matter experts to request their participation in the first of three main waves of the project; this included industry professionals and practitioners, current tutors, academics, and payroll specialists. By the end of that month the scope of the project had been communicated at a kick-off meeting to mark the start of the development; wave one.

Approval from the academic partners over the proposed changes to the first wave of modules was received and, by February 2020, building of the new materials was underway. Industry specialists continued to participate and contribute views and opinions on the content. This helped to keep the content grounded and relevant for professionals and practitioners. Despite the pandemic’s disruption, pilot testing of the new materials started in autumn 2020 and continues.

By autumn 2020, a further wave of modules had been selected for re-development (wave two), split as these comprised technical and non-technical modules (the latter focused mainly on soft skills). Before roll-out, all modules must be piloted and amended where necessary, and the teaching staff have to be well-versed with content and delivery. Ready for launch in September 2021, approval by the academic partners and the awarding university must be obtained, with support materials loaded on the system ready for use – all whilst cohorts of students continue to study on the current programmes.

In autumn 2021, it is anticipated that two of the three waves will be rolled-out to students; and, by autumn 2022, all three waves incorporating all modules from both programmes will be launched.

Over the years, thousands of payroll and pension professionals have been graduates of the Foundation Degree. The CIPP, in conjunction with its academic partners will ensure these professionally recognised qualifications are robust and relevant and continue to be recognised as the premier qualifications in the career path of pension and payroll professionals. 

Featured in the June 2021 issue of Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward. Correct at time of publication.