5,000 qualifications at post-16 level which have less than 100 students enrolled per year are now at risk of losing government funding. Following the recent parliamentary review of Post-16 qualifications at Level 3 and below, proposals have been made to withdraw government funding from low-enrolment courses.
As part of the review, the government is seeking views from the education sector on whether any of the 5,000 qualifications on the list should continue to attract public funding from August 2021.
This is a move taken by the Department of Education to ensure qualifications are high quality and enable students to progress into employment or further study. Qualifications under threat of funding cuts include Level 3 Personal Training and OCNLR Level 2 Interior Design, as other options for students looking at those subjects are in higher demand.
Though some low-enrolment courses will maintain funding, the Chief Executive of The Association of Colleges David Hughes explains:
“I am pleased at the approach being taken which should protect highly-valued but low enrolment qualifications which provide crucial skills, often in smaller sectors of the economy.” He adds that the system changes are essential “in making the qualification landscape easier to navigate for students and employers is crucial for the success of technical education.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that: “Removing funding for qualifications that have no or low numbers of enrolments will help make sure students have a clearer choice of the qualifications on offer, and ensure they get the skills they need to progress”
He adds that “trying to decide what course will put you on the path to a great career is hard enough, but with over 12,000 qualifications (including A-Levels and GCSE) available and many in the same subject – it can feel like a needle in a haystack”
However, the course funding cuts follows the introduction of T-Level qualifications from 2020 onwards. T-Levels aim to streamline qualification options for 16-19 year olds, bridging the gap between BTEC Awards and A-Levels as an alternate balance of vocational and academic study.
The Department for Education described the new qualification as “the gold standard technical course of choice for young people from 2020.” Aiming to level up skills and opportunities, the government has worked with over 200 employers to create the higher quality vocational qualification, preparing students for entering the workforce.
T-Level qualifications are the equivalent of 3 A-Levels, but consist of an 80% classroom and 20% work placement balance. The 2 year courses will include a 45 day placement, enabling students to gain experience in industry. 50 colleges around the UK will be providing T-Levels as an option for students from Sept 2020, with an additional 63 colleges to offer the qualification from Sept 2021.
Similarly to current Levels 1-3 awards, T-Levels will use the pass, merit, distinction, distinction* grading system. A T-Level Distinction* will earn UCAS points equivalent of 3 A-Levels at A*. The subjects available for this qualification are gradually being introduced from Sept 2020-Sept 2023, with prospective courses such as Education, Digital Business Services, Accountancy, Human Resources and Catering to be introduced.