Skills and universities minister Robert Halfon has told vice chancellors to publicly clarify whether or not they will accept T Levels as valid entry qualifications for their universities.
In a letter sent to vice chancellors today, Halfon said there were “too many instances” where T Level students are unsure whether they can apply for university courses because of unclear entry criteria.
He said: “We know that many Higher Education institutions have already assimilated T Levels into their admissions process, and provided a public statement on their entry requirements. However, there remain many instances where students are unsure if they can apply to a course at a university they are interested in, because the entry requirements for T Levels are unclear.
“This places such students in a difficult and uncertain position, as their UCAS choices naturally hold long-term implications for their future.”
Halfon goes on to say that vice chancellors should publish a statement on their institution’s website which “sets out your approach to entry requirements for students with T Levels for 2022 and beyond”.
The letter comes just one week before the UCAS application deadline for 2023 undergraduate courses.
“This should include details of the entry requirements for relevant courses, so students can easily access correct and transparent admissions information for this UCAS cycle” he wrote.
The DfE launched a list of higher education providers accepting T Levels last December. At that time just 66 of the country’s 140 universities were listed.
As of January 12, there were 133 higher education providers listed. Of those, 104 were universities, 26 were FE colleges offering HE and three were institutes of technology.
However to get on the list, universities and HE providers only have to have a “minimum of one” course accepting T Levels as entry qualifications and, incredibly, the list doesn’t tell students what those courses are.
As T Levels were introduced in 2020, just one cohort have so far completed the course and progressed. Just over a third (36 per cent, 370 students) of that cohort won a place at university last year.
Do more degree apprenticeships
Halfon has also repeated his call for more universities to offer degree apprenticeships.
Degree apprenticeships are rising in popularity, but Halfon wants more universities, particularly the “most prestigious” ones, to provide the courses.
He said: “I want to see many more degree apprenticeships, delivered by a wider range of universities. Our most prestigious universities should lead by example, building parity of esteem between high-quality technical courses and academic degrees.”
Halfon makes his case by suggesting “If your university is serious about social justice, I ask you to seriously consider offering degree apprenticeships alongside other courses.”
There is currently little evidence though to support Halfon’s claim that degree apprenticeships improve social justice.
Social mobility charity The Sutton Trust released the latest in a long line of research reports highlighting poor uptake of degree apprenticeships from people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The research found that people from lower income areas were actually less likely to do a degree apprenticeship than go to university for a traditional course.