Once upon a time - depending when you were born or even where you lived – further education was considered an alternative road to the big wide world. The purest of academic routes is not for everyone so the do-ers amongst us sought out a more practical launchpad for their career. Same destination, different journey you might say.
Since the entire Education sector had something of a rebirth, many colleges are now firmly aligned with a network of HE partners, where degree level provision nestles comfortably alongside more traditional FE courses and qualifications. Given the demands on further education over the years this is by no means, well, a mean feat. Colleges have had to become chameleon-like in their approach to attracting students against a backdrop of new challenges. Funding cuts, mergers, educational reform, the emergence of distance learning, new technologies and even more mergers continue to impact on the sector. (According to the DfE there were 171 mergers between 1993 and 2018. Hardly a small number.)
And why might this be relevant? Well, each term CLA visit around 30 FE licensees to collect essential royalties data, taking in state colleges, adult education and independent specialists to name a few. Despite the many demands on their time, college staff continue to offer a warm welcome and positive engagement when their turn to provide data comes around, something we’re very grateful for.
Whilst the sector has been busy evolving, the CLA methodology remains much of a constant when it comes to collecting FE data. Like an old friend, the familiar yellow boxes reappear every few years, patiently waiting to find out which publications have been copied or scanned. Needing nothing more than a copy of the ISBN page with a completed data label, it takes just seconds to give us the information needed to trigger a royalty payment and post it in the box. For the rights holder – publisher, author or visual artist – this can mean the difference between continuing with their craft or, alas, looking for pastures new.
The other thing we ask of our FE licensees is a list of their favourite teaching publications and online sources, known as Top Titles and Websites (TT&W). Whilst the yellow boxes tell us what was actually copied or scanned during the data collection, this information tells us what could have been copied or scanned, if the sample period had run for longer perhaps or taken place in a different term. Titles or URLs which frequently appear on the TT&W list are more likely to be used for copying purposes on a wider scale, than those which seldom appear. It’s not quite a popularity contest but it does form an important part of our statistical process.
Remember the levels of engagement mentioned earlier? We have been exploring new technology to bring the yellow boxes into the 21st century and FE was the first sector to provide invaluable insight. With good IT infrastructure and a keen eye on the future, several colleges kindly gave feedback on technical parameters as well as the user experience, all of which was incredibly helpful for development purposes.
So, thank you FE. For now, the boxes live to fight another day……but watch this space!
About the Author
Tracy works as a Data Research Manager, having joined CLA in 2010. Alongside her research into workflows and technology, Tracy project manages day to day operations of a team of UK-wide Royalties Officers working closely with our Education customers.