The 1990s have witnessed a period of rapid change and development for everyone participating within the Further and Higher Education sectors. Traditional demarcations have been eroded and the number of students entering courses has rapidly increased. This study examines some of the principal debates that have been raised during this period through an analysis of the work of two further education colleges in the North-East of England. The focus of the research is on BTEC National Diploma courses in performing arts, and the way in which they interface with courses in higher education. The two colleges provide case studies through which the primary debate of access is examined. Subsidiary issues regarding course content, vocational training, academic standards, resource issues and the expectations of staff and students are also examined. The entire study is located within a contextual framework which examines the broader effects of policy changes with regards to the arts and education, the development of vocational courses and statistical evidence pertaining to the interface of BTEC courses and degree programmes. Opinions have been gathered from a number of staff engaged in education and training in both sectors. These have been supplemented by the views of students on BTEC National Diploma courses and illuminated through exploration of the regional context in which the courses operate. The scope of this research project has required the adoption of an appropriately flexible research technique. I have chosen to employ a number of differing, yet complementary, research techniques within a framework of multi-method analysis. This was deemed to be the most effective manner in which meaningful conclusions could be reached due to the subjective nature of much of the information to be examined.