Catalogue description Records created or inherited by the Council for National Academic Awards, and related bodies

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Reference: DB
Title: Records created or inherited by the Council for National Academic Awards, and related bodies

These are the records of the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) and its related bodies, concerning awards in higher education.

The CNAA's annual reports, DB 2, and the minutes of its meetings and those of its committees, DB 3.

Records of the National Council for Technological Awards, DB 1, and of the National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design, DB 4.

Council for National Academic Awards: Royal Charter, DB 5.

Date: 1945-1991
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: English

Council for National Academic Awards, 1964-1993

National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design, 1961-1974

National Council for Technological Awards, 1955-1964

Physical description: 5 series
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

from 1983 Council for National Academic Awards

Administrative / biographical background:

National Council for Technological Awards (NCTA), 1955-1964

The National Council for Technological Awards (NCTA) was set up by the Minister of Education in 1955 in response to the recommendation by the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry that there should be a council to create and administer a nationally recognised technological award for the students of technical colleges.

Financed jointly by industry and central government and established under trust deed as an independent self-governing body, the NCTA consisted of a Governing Body, an Executive Committee, two Boards of Studies (one in Engineering and one in Technologies Other Than Engineering) with a joint Steering Committee, and a Higher Awards Committee. There were in addition a number of subject panels.

The Governing Body consisted of a chairman and five members appointed by the minister, with three other members to be appointed by each of the Boards of Studies. Membership of each Board of Studies was divided between nominees of the Associations of Principals and Teachers of Technical Institutions (10 members), various institutes (10-12 members), and the Ministry of Education (5 members).

The first meetings of the Governing Body and Boards of Studies took place in December 1955 but it was March 1956 before the titles of the council and the award (Diploma of Technology: Dip. Tech.) were decided. In May 1956 a memorandum was produced on the recognition of courses for the diploma and first applications were received in August. By the time the NCTA published its first report, covering the period December 1955 to July 1957, it had approved 49 courses and rejected 34.

In 1964 the NCTA was replaced by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA).

National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design (NCDAD), 1961-1974

The National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design (NCDAD) was an independent body set up by the Ministry of Education under a declaration of trust made in May 1961. The council of the NCDAD, comprising twenty members, was appointed by the minister under the chairmanship of Sir John Summerson in the first instance.

The NCDAD was charged with the responsibility for the approval of courses leading to the Diploma in Art and Design submitted by colleges, schools and departments of art and design. As such the NCDAD considered curricula, syllabuses, standards of admission and subsequent performance, college government, quality and standing of teachers, adequacy of accommodation and equipment, the maintenance of libraries, the provision of suitable communal amenities and conduct of examinations. One of the main responsibilities was to safeguard standards and levels of attainment among all schools of art where diploma courses were approved.

To facilitate the reviewing of the first group of applications for approval, five specialist panels were constituted. These comprised one for each area of study (Fine Art; Graphic Design; Three Dimensional Design; Textiles/Fashion) and one in History of Art and Complementary Studies. The function of the panels was (i) to advise the NCDAD on all matters relating specifically to their respective areas of study; and (ii) to constitute from among their members the visiting teams whose function was to make direct contact with principals and staffs and to visit schools as part of the process of assessing the courses submitted for inspection. Each panel was headed by a chairman who was also a member of the council. Each member of the council, except the chairman of the council, served on one of the panels.

In 1972 discussions began between NCDAD and the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) on the possibility of a merger. A formal announcement was made on 26 February 1973 and, subsequent to changes in the charter of the CNAA and the establishment of a scheme under the Charities Act 1960 in respect of the NCDAD, the merger was completed by 1 September 1974. In the thirteen years of the NCDAD upwards of 120 diplomas in art and design courses and some eighteen postgraduate courses were approved.

Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), 1964-1993

The Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) was established by Royal Charter in 1964. Its establishment was recommended by the Committee on Higher Education (Robbins Committee) which reported in 1963 and which recommended that:

  • (i) higher education in the UK should be expanded to meet the increasing demand of students qualified to enter;
  • (ii) opportunities for advanced work outside the universities should be extended to degree level in the arts, humanities and social studies as well as in science and technology;
  • (iii) the National Council for Technological Awards (NCTA), with its limited scope should be replaced by the CNAA which would be empowered to award degrees.

The degrees of the CNAA replaced the former Diplomas in Technology of the NCTA. By the end of the 1960s nearly every polytechnic and many other institutions in the UK had replaced their University of London external degree courses with those of the CNAA, enabling them to devise their own courses.

The CNAA approved courses in science and technology, social sciences, business and management studies, arts and humanities, education and art and design. In 1974 the National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design (NCDAD) merged with the CNAA, and in 1976 the CNAA assumed responsibility for courses leading to the Diploma in Management Studies.

The CNAA's committee structure was headed by a council consisting of a chairman and twenty-five members, all appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. Under the council were various committees. At the inception of CNAA three committees were formed: the Committee for Arts and Social Studies; the Committee for Science and Technology; and the Committee for Research Degrees. In 1965-1966 the Committee for Education was developed. Upon amalgamation with NCDAD in 1974, the Committee for Art and Design was formed. Under these committees were sub-committees, boards, panels and working groups.

Following the publication of the white paper on higher education, which gave polytechnics and other higher education institutions the right to award their own degrees, an announcement of the abolition of CNAA was made which ultimately took place in 1993. The council's validation responsibilities were taken over by the Open University, while quality assessment was carried out by the Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) and the quality assessment committees of the funding councils.

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