71 courses face the axe in favour of wave 4 T Levels

Popular BTECs in media and animal management to be scrapped, DfE announces

Popular BTECs in media and animal management to be scrapped, DfE announces

Over 70 courses taken by more than 32,000 students are set to be cut by the government in effort to make way for the fourth wave of T Levels.

Popular creative media practice and animal management BTECs will be among those to have their funding withdrawn from August 1, 2025, the Department for Education announced today.

Officials outlined a provisional list of 71 qualifications to be defunded after they were deemed to overlap with wave four T Levels, which are being rolled out in or before August 2024 in five subjects: agriculture and land management; animal care; craft and design; legal; and media, broadcast and production.

The at-risk courses with the most enrolments are Pearson’s BTEC level 3 national extended diploma in creative media practice and Pearson’s BTEC Level 3 national 540 diploma in creative media practice. 

The pair drew in nearly 6,500 student enrolments between them in the 2021/22 academic year.

The government launched a defunding process of level 3 qualifications that “overlap” with T Levels in 2022. It previously confirmed plans to axe 134 courses from August 2024 that compete with waves 1 and 2 T Levels, and a further 85 courses that compete with wave 3 will have their funding withdrawn a year later.

Officials are moving ahead with the controversial defunding plans despite prime minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement that he wants to replace T Levels with a new baccalaureate-style qualification for 16- to- 19-year-olds over the next decade – the Advanced British Standard (ABS).

The Labour Party has however promised to pause and review the reforms if it wins the upcoming general election.

James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, slammed the government’s “misguided reforms”.

“The Protect Student Choice campaign has warmly welcomed the commitment made by Labour and the Liberal Democrats to pause and review the government’s plan to scrap BTECs, but today’s announcement shows that the government intends to plough ahead with its misguided reforms,” he said. 

“We’d like to see the current three-route model of A levels, BTECs and T Levels remain available to young people now and into the future.”

Catherine Sezen, director of education policy at the Association of Colleges, said: “We once again urge the government to pause defunding and undertake a review of the decisions made on qualifications for the future. The Department for Education must address the sector’s valid concerns about the impact on students and deliverability of T levels at scale.”

Today’s axe list shows four qualifications offered by Pearson and City & Guilds in animal management will be replaced by the animal care and management T Level. 

The courses, which include Pearson BTEC Level 3 foundation and extended diploma in animal management, had nearly 10,000 students enrolled.

Pearson is the most affected awarding organisation, with 23 qualifications due to be axed. City & Guilds will have funding for 21 qualifications removed and RSL has 14 courses affected, all in the media and communication space.

Meanwhile, 11 qualifications in the list had zero enrolments. These include City & Guilds level 3 diploma in work-based trees and timber and IMI level 3 certificate in land-based technology (VRQ).

Other affected awarding bodies include OCR, NCFE, SEG, IMI, Open College Network West Midlands, and RHS. 

Female learners, white students and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities will be most affected by the funding removal, according to an equalities impact assessment published by DfE today.

Awarding bodies are able to submit appeals to save their qualifications from today. The appeal process closes on March 26.

The DfE also announced today that the planned hair and beauty T Level has been scrapped (full story here).

Kewin said this is “another example of the chaos and confusion that has characterised the government’s reform of level 3 qualifications”.

He also condemned the government for “consistently refusing to publish meaningful data on student performance or destinations” for T Levels while rolling out the changes.

“Just 15,000 young people are currently studying a T Level despite £1.8 billion of public investment since 2019. It is also a flagship that will not be sailing for much longer, given the government’s plan to replace it with the Advanced British Standard,” he added.

Skills minister Robert Halfon said: “We remain fully committed to the roll out of T Levels, which will form the backbone of the prime minister’s ambitious ABS and help us build a skills and apprenticeship nation.”

Provisional list of qualifications overlapping with wave 4 T Levels

TitleSector Subject Area Tier 216-19 study programme enrolments
(academic year 2021/22)
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Creative Media PracticeMedia and communication3270
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National 540 Diploma in Creative Media PracticeMedia and communication3220
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Animal Management (1080)Animal care and veterinary science2800
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Animal Management Animal care and veterinary science2560
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Animal ManagementAnimal care and veterinary science2460
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Animal Management (540)Animal care and veterinary science1960
RSL Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma for Music PractitionersPerforming arts1180
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Creative Digital Media ProductionMedia and communication1140
OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Digital Media Media and communication1120
RSL Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in the Creative Music IndustryPerforming arts950
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Film and Television ProductionMedia and communication820
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Animal Management Animal care and veterinary science820
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Digital Music ProductionCrafts creative arts and design780
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Digital Film and Video Production Media and communication770
RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma in the Creative Music IndustryPerforming arts670
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Animal Management (720)Animal care and veterinary science660
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical  Extended Diploma in Agriculture (1080)Agriculture620
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Sound EngineeringCrafts creative arts and design530
RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Digital MediaMedia and communication510
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Animal ManagementAnimal care and veterinary science500
RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma For Music PractitionersPerforming arts500
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Certificate in Animal ManagementAnimal care and veterinary science480
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical  Diploma in Agriculture (540)Agriculture450
RSL Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Creative Digital MediaMedia and communication420
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Production Arts PracticePerforming arts300
Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Music Technology (QCF)Performing arts280
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in AgricultureAgriculture260
OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma in Digital Media Media and communication200
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Land-based Engineering (1080)Agriculture190
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture (1080)Horticulture and forestry180
Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media Production (QCF)Media and communication160
Pearson BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Music Technology (QCF)Performing arts150
SEG Awards Level 3 Certificate in Practical Animal Care SkillsAnimal care and veterinary science150
OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in Digital MediaMedia and communication130
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Music Technology Crafts creative arts and design100
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Music TechnologyPerforming arts100
RSL Level 3 Extended Certificate in the Creative Music IndustryPerforming arts90
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Music Technology Crafts creative arts and design70
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Horticulture (540)Horticulture and forestry70
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Floristry (540)Horticulture and forestry60
City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Horticulture (1080) Horticulture and forestry50
RSL Level 3 Diploma in the Creative Music IndustryPerforming arts50
RSL level 3 Subsidiary Diploma for Creative Industries PractitionersPerforming arts50
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in HorticultureHorticulture and forestry40
RSL Level 3 Extended Certificate in Creative Digital MediaMedia and communication40
City & Guilds  Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Land-based TechnologyAgriculture30
City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Furniture Design and MakingManufacturing technologies30
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in HorticultureHorticulture and forestry30
City & Guilds  Level 3 Diploma in Land-based TechnologyAgriculture20
RSL Level 3 Diploma in Creative Digital MediaMedia and communication20
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in HorticultureHorticulture and forestry20
City & Guilds  Level 3 Diploma in Work-based HorticultureHorticulture and forestry10
City & Guilds  Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and ArboricultureHorticulture and forestry10
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in HorticultureHorticulture and forestry10
NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Creative CraftCrafts creative arts and design10
City & Guilds  Level 3 Diploma in Work-based AgricultureAgriculture0
City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma In Work-based Trees and TimberAgriculture0
IMI Level 3 Certificate in Land-Based Technology (VRQ)Agriculture0
IMI Level 3 Extended Diploma in Land-based Engineering Technology (VRQ)Agriculture0
Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Diploma in Feline Care, Behaviour and WelfareAnimal care and veterinary science0
RSL Level 3 Award in Creative Digital MediaMedia and communication0
Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Award in Canine Care, Behaviour and WelfareAnimal care and veterinary science0
Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Diploma in Canine Care, Behaviour and WelfareAnimal care and veterinary science0
RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma for Creative Industries PractitionersPerforming arts0
RHS Level 3 Certificate in The Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied PropagationHorticulture and forestry0
Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Award in Feline Care, Behaviour and WelfareAnimal care and veterinary science0
SEG Awards Level 3 Diploma in Work-Based Animal Care and Welfare Animal care and veterinary scienceX
City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Land-based Technology Agriculturelow
City & Guilds Level 3 90-Credit Diploma in Forestry and ArboricultureHorticulture and forestrylow
RSL Level 3 Certificate in Creative Digital MediaMedia and communicationlow
City & Guilds Level 3 90-Credit Diploma in Land-based TechnologyAgriculturelow
Source: Department for Education

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One comment

  1. Albert Wright

    I am not surprised hair and beauty T levels have been scrapped. They should never have been developed.

    T levels should not be used to train and skill up students in activities and subjects that involve extensive practical work, on or off a job.

    As for wave 4 – five subjects: agriculture and land management; animal care; craft and design; legal; and media, broadcast and production – why on earth include “legal”? We have A levels in Politics and Economics, why do we not have an A level in law? What is the difference in content and curriculum beween a legal T level qualification and an A level in law.

    Unless the Government can clearly differentiate the concepts behind A levels, T levels, Apprenticeships and BTECs the public and students will never understand why we need these reforms.

    Is the real reason for reform that for some reason , the Government wants to ditch Pearson et al in favour of NCFE et al ?