16-19 curriculum is 'misunderstood'

August 8, 1997

Higher education institutions have a "depressing" understanding of developments in the 16-19 curriculum, especially in their relationship with the Advanced level General National Vocational Qualification, according to a report from the Universities and Colleges Admission Service.

Published this week, the UCAS Gate project report, Tracking Advanced GNVQ Students into Higher Education, includes a survey of the first GNVQ students to graduate from higher education.

Students said that their GNVQ studies lacked sufficient depth for higher education. The report found that essay-writing skills had been neglected, and students were ill-prepared for the "form of assessment often used within higher education".

Although a high percentage of GNVQ students now enter higher education successfully, the report said, they are still pessimistic about their chances of gaining a place. Growing regionalism, with students increasingly expected to study in their locality, is limiting the applicant's choice of institution. This is detrimental to the GNVQ student, as different institutions have vastly differing perceptions of their qualifications.

Interviewees also said that higher education staff needed to be "educated" about "the pre-HE curriculum changes in front of them." UCAS said: "The students quoted present a rather depressing picture of the way that HE does not necessarily keep itself informed about the current changes around it, meaning specifically the extent to which HE understands GNVQ as a qualification."

But students with GNVQs were seen as having greater "life skills". One A-level student said they "seem to have more experience of living. This seems to make them more mature than we are."

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