Government’s technical qualifications to count for Ucas points in bid to end ‘snobbery’

'As a nation I’m afraid we’ve been technical education snobs,' education secretary says

Number of top universities plan to reject government’s technical qualifications
Number of top universities plan to reject government’s technical qualifications

Students who take the government’s new flagship technical qualification will receive Ucas points in a bid to end “snobbery” towards vocational education, the education secretary will say.

Learners who complete a T-level programme will be allocated the same amount of Ucas points as students who do three A-levels to help progression into higher education, the government has said.

It comes after a number of top universities said they planned to reject the government’s technical qualifications – which are intended to have an equal status to A-levels.

In a keynote speech to business leaders today, education secretary Damian Hinds will call on Britain to drop its “snobby” attitude to technical education or risk being left behind after Brexit.

T-levels will be awarded Ucas points so they are seen as being on par with academic equivalents, and to help students progress onto degrees, higher level technical training or apprenticeships.

Mr Hinds will say: “I want us to break down some of the false barriers we’ve erected between academic and technical routes.

“I don’t see any reason why higher technical training shouldn’t be open to certain A-level students as long as they have the prerequisite knowledge and practical skill. Equally, I want T-level students, that want to, to be able to go to university to do relevant technical degrees.”

Mr Hinds will announce the next seven T-level courses to be taught from 2021, which will include programmes in health, science, construction, and digital services.

The first T-level courses will be taught in further education and post-16 providers from 2020.

Speaking at an event in London this morning, Mr Hinds will add: “As a nation I’m afraid we’ve been technical education snobs. We’ve revered the academic but treated vocational as second class. When we do it well - law, engineering, medicine - then we don’t even call it vocational.

“Why has this has been tolerated for so long? I think the reason is the “OPC” problem. For so many opinion formers, commentators and, yes, politicians: vocational courses are for ‘other people’s children’.”

Tom Berwick, chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), who has previously raised concerns about the implementation of the T-levels, said: “The principle of a genuinely world-class and equitable technical route for young people will be broadly welcomed.”

He added: “However, the elephant in the room is securing proper investment in further education which has seen its funding cut significantly in the last decade.

“The government needs a more coherent plan post-18 that links increased investment in productivity with better incentives for providers and employers to meet the skills the country needs.”

Helen Thorne, Ucas’ director of external relations, added: “Universities and colleges make their own admissions decisions and accept a broad range of qualifications for entry to higher education, including vocational and technical qualifications.

“It’s important to remember that not all universities use tariff points in their entry requirements and offers, so we encourage students to check the Ucas website and with universities directly about the qualifications they accept.”

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