Dance and drama students will have the chance to join new courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications and possibly attracting financial support.
The six new courses, known provisionally as national diplomas, have been created to give students access to new scholarships and training that reflect the needs of the dance and drama professions.
The need for formal qualifications was highlighted when the government announced plans for a Pounds 19 million scholarship package for 820 dance and drama students. Under existing guidelines, students are only eligible if they are on a nationally registered scheme. This required the creation of a range of courses.
The course structures have been approved by the Department for Education and Employment and have been submitted to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for clearance. It is hoped the two and three-year certificates will slot into the national qualifications framework.
The programmes were designed by the Council for Dance Education and Training, the National Council for Drama Training and potential employers and industry professionals.
Anna Leverdale, lead officer of the CDET, said the short stage life of professional dancers has made it increasingly necessary to acknowledge their unique and often remarkable achievements.
"Actors and dancers have never felt the need for qualifications before, what counts is whether or not you can perform. But there is no formal recognition for the work and training they have put in, often from age 11," she said.
Students will still be assessed on performance, but Ms Leverdale said the new qualifications acknowledge that students are engaged in a training process more than just an occupational setting.
She said: "The courses have been written generically as we really wanted to maintain the diverse course provision that exists. That is why the whole sector is so vibrant and alive. But our primary concern has been to ensure that these young people do find employment at the end of their training and that they can get state support where possible."