Another 92 courses face the chop to make way for T Levels

Halfon reveals the latest round of qualifications facing the chop to make way for T Levels, including popular engineering BTECs

Halfon reveals the latest round of qualifications facing the chop to make way for T Levels, including popular engineering BTECs

25 May 2023, 19:18

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Ninety-two courses taken by over 17,000 students face the axe as the government reveals its latest hit list of level 3 qualifications.

Popular courses for 16- to- 19-year-olds in engineering and manufacturing are set to lose their funding from 2025 as officials continue to clear the way for their flagship T Level qualifications.

The qualifications sentenced to defunding today rival wave 3 of the T Level rollout. They include Pearson’s BTEC national foundation diploma in engineering, the BTEC national extended diploma in engineering and IMI’s diploma in light vehicle maintenance. Over 8,200 young FE students enrolled on those qualifications in 2020/21.

Teaching of wave 3 T Levels began in September 2022, bringing in business and administration, legal, finance and accounting and engineering and manufacturing. Those students will complete in 2024. Overlap qualifications will be removed the year after in 2025.

Skills minister Robert Halfon announced this morning the Department for Education had identified 92 level 3 qualifications in total that overlap with wave 3 T Levels and will therefore lose their funding. See table below for the full list.

The DfE previously announced that 134 other level 3 courses that overlap with waves 1 and 2 of T Levels also face defunding.

“We are reforming technical qualifications as the current qualifications do not consistently progress young people to related employment,” Halfon said.

“Removing funding from technical qualifications which overlap with T Levels will ensure young people can feel confident that they are studying technical qualifications which will prepare them for jobs in their chosen occupation.”

DfE data shows that of the 92, 36 had no enrolments and 24 had fewer than 100 enrolments in 2020/21. Enrolment data “wasn’t available” for six qualifications.

The remaining 26 qualifications recorded 16 to 19 enrolments totalling 17,120 in 2020/21.

Pearson, which offers the popular BTEC, is the most affected awarding organisation, with 12,010 enrolments in in 2020/21 across 18 qualifications earmarked for defunding. 

EAL and IMI are the next most affected awarding organisations, with 2,150 and 1,180 enrolments on affected enrolments respectively. 

Pearson’s managing director for vocational qualifications and training, Freya Thomas Monk, told FE Week: “Our BTEC nationals in business and enterprise are highly regarded by learners and employers and we welcome that they are not on the provisional list of qualifications that was published.”

On the 18 Pearson qualifications that have been listed, Thomas Monk said: “We will be writing to our customers shortly with what this announcement means for them and their learners.”

Pearson confirmed it will not appeal to save any of the qualifications. 

Other awarding bodies impacted by the wave 3 overlap list have until July 6 to appeal.

The most popular qualification on the list is Pearson’s Level 3 national foundation diploma in engineering, with 3,790 enrolments in 2020/21. 

The qualification features as one of 75 applied general qualifications already deemed ineligible for consideration as an alternative to T Levels based on analysis by the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA). 

James Kewin, SFCA deputy chief executive, said the inclusion of engineering courses on the latest list “serves as a reminder of the sort of popular and respected courses that young people will no longer be able to access in the future”.

Data obtained by a freedom of information request by the Protect Student Choice campaign, which SFCA leads, found that 68 per cent of 16 to 18 years olds currently studying applied general qualifications are enrolled on courses that will not be funded in the future.

“Ministers have reneged on their commitment to only defund a small proportion of AGQs and taken the extraordinary step of preventing 55 per cent of these qualifications from even starting the approval process,” Kewin said.

“This high-handed approach and steadfast refusal to acknowledge concerns about the direction of level 3 reform will leave many young people without a viable pathway at the age of 16.”

A provisional list of qualifications that overlap with the fourth and final wave of T Levels will be published “later this year”.

Kewin said: “We are now at a critical juncture at the reform process and we need ministers to start listening before irreparable damage is done to the life chances of tens of thousands of young people. A change to the defunding process is the absolute minimum we need, but delaying a bad idea does not stop it from being a bad idea – AGQs have a vital role to play alongside A levels and T levels in the future.”

DfE said the final wave 3 overlap list will be published “in the autumn” following decisions on appeals from the awarding bodies.

IMI and EAL were approached for comment but did not reply at the time of going to press.

Table listing 93 courses overlapping with wave 3 T Levels

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