The Department for Education has insisted it still has no T Level recruitment target, even though the Treasury has made funding available for “up to 100,000 students” by 2024.
The investment was laid out in last week’s spending review but the DfE has told FE Week this does not constitute a target.
A spokesperson said: “In developing and rolling out T Levels our focus has been and remains the quality of the qualifications, rather than chasing arbitrary numbers of students.
“The spending review document talks about ‘funding for up to 100,000 T Level students by 2024/25’. So while the funding to enable significant expansion is welcome, this does not constitute a target, either from Treasury or DfE.”
Shadow skills minister Toby Perkins said the government’s stance shows they “clearly don’t believe their own hype around uptake of T Levels”.
Around 1,300 young people started T Levels last year – the first year of their rollout. The DfE said figures for this year’s enrolments will not be available until “the end of the year”.
Former skills minister Sir John Hayes criticised the DfE earlier this year for moving away from T Levels student recruitment targets. This came after the DfE had originally set student number “estimates” for the first three T Levels but later claimed they have no fixed targets.
Hayes, Conservative MP for South Holland and The Deepings, who held the skills brief between 2010 and 2012, told a Westminster Education Forum event in March that numerical goals are essential to making new programmes “credible”.
He said targets are vital to “gauge success” and that he has “never bought the argument” that you cannot focus on both quality and quantity when rolling schemes out.