This article explores the recent development of new spheres of public engagement within UK higher education through an analysis of the foundation degree qualification. These, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), were designed to equip students with the combination of technical skills, academic knowledge, and transferable skills increasingly being demanded by employers, and they have been identified as being at the forefront of educational agendas aimed at increasing employer engagement in the higher education (HE) sector. As such, they might be regarded as an expression of the 'increasing privatisation' of HE. However, this article argues that, on the contrary, they have enabled the development of new areas of public engagement relating to the design and delivery of courses as well as providing new opportunities for the pursuit of public policy goals such as widening participation. Such outcomes, it is argued, are the result of a number of factors that explain the 'publicness' of the qualification and that should be sustained to ensure the implementation of the 2006 Leitch Report in a manner that further develops public engagement
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