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University Alliance responds to review of post-16 level 3 and below qualifications

University Alliance has responded to the first stage of the government’s review of post-16 level 3 and below qualifications. This review looks into which qualifications are needed and how their quality can be assured at levels 1, 2 and 3 (excluding T Levels, A Levels and GCSEs), in order to streamline qualifications for students post-16.

Level 3 qualifications include applied generals, such as BTEC Nationals, which are a progression route to higher education. The consultation asked for views on high level principles for future public funding of post-16 qualifications. It also asked for views on how to define ‘overlap’ between qualifications based on the expectation that where a qualification at level 3 overlaps with a T Level or A Level it would not, in future, be approved for funding in relation to 16 to 19 year olds.

Five key points from our response:

  1. Higher levels of professional and technical education provided by institutions such as University Alliance members should be open to students through A-levels, T-Levels and a third, but no less valuable, route at level 3 which facilitates broad career-focused technical education as well as allowing for combined programmes. There should be flexibility for young people to change their minds about future progression routes and occupations.
  2. The range of different higher education learning environments should be better understood by Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) providers, as well as the diversity of high-quality technical qualifications available beyond level 3.
  3. The progression of students with applied general qualifications (AGQs), particularly BTEC Nationals, to higher education has a significant impact on widening participation. It is important that we continue to build on research, interventions and investment in addressing barriers to access, transition, retention and success, and ensure that BTEC students are not overlooked as a widening participation cohort.
  4. Qualifications for 16- 19 year olds should ensure that progression routes to higher and degree level vocational career-focused education, and a range of qualifications exist in all regions in the UK.
  5. Until the detailed content of T Levels is confirmed it will be difficult to determine the level and nature of overlap with other qualifications, and we are concerned that the pace of reform could outstrip a fuller and more informed basis for decision-making.

You can read our full response here.

Detailed plans will be brought forward in the second stage of consultation, which is expected in late 2019. To discuss our response, please contact Ellie Russell, Deputy Head of Policy ellie@www.unialliance.ac.uk