Government plans to axe the controversial MBA qualification from the level 7 senior leader apprenticeship have been put on hold.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) has revealed the move will not happen until at least November, possibly even 2021.

It was set for the chop after education secretary Gavin Williamson requested a review of the popular programme, worth up to £18,000 per apprentice, as he was “unconvinced” it provides value for money.

A revised level 7 senior leader standard that excludes the MBA was drawn up by its trailblazer group earlier this month and has been consulted on.

But in a blog post this week, the IfATE’s senior relationships manager for standards development, Sally Timmins, said that due to Covid-19, they have agreed an “update to the envisaged development timeline to project when the revised apprenticeship standard could be approved for delivery if it got through the institute’s approval process without any problems”.

“We have agreed separate submission dates for the standard and the end-point assessment plan/costings which now means a final approval date of end November/early December,” she added.

“Consideration will also need to be given as to whether a notice period needs to be given between its approval and final implementation.”

As previously reported, the IfATE ordered the trailblazer group of the level 7 senior leader apprenticeship to remove the MBA from programme as it would no longer “meet the intent of our policy on mandated qualifications”.

However, the institute has since confirmed to FE Week that providers would still be allowed to offer the MBA as a non-mandatory qualification, though costs for qualification registration, certification and any training not directly related to the standard would not be fundable from the levy.

An employer could choose to pay these costs out of their own pocket to enable their apprentice to acquire the qualification in addition to passing the apprenticeship via the end-point assessment.

FE Week has spoken to a number of universities that have said they intend to continue offering the MBA in the apprenticeship after it is scrapped as a mandatory qualification.

The IfATE previously told FE Week that as the changes to the occupational standard and end-point assessment plan are likely to be significant, they expect to change the funding band, which currently sits at £18,000.

The level 7 senior leader apprenticeship has proven extremely popular since its launch in February 2018. FE Week analysis shows it had 6,387 starts on the programme up to the first quarter of 2019-20, worth up to £115 million.

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