One in four university entrants has a BTEC, Ucas study finds

Admissions service says institutions should do more to accommodate growing numbers of students from a vocational background

January 28, 2016
Apprentices working with engineer on CNC machinery

More than one in four English students accepted into higher education last year had at least one vocational BTEC among their qualifications, a study says.

Analysis by Ucas shows that 26 per cent (102,700) of English university entrants had a BTEC in 2015, compared with 14 per cent in 2008. Most of these had BTECs only, but some combined the qualification with A levels.

The admissions service says that if universities assume that their new entrants have experienced the style of teaching and assessment associated with A levels, students with vocational qualifications “may struggle”.

In particular, students with BTECs may have less experience of essay writing and examined assessments, and some gaps in subject knowledge, according to the report, Progression Pathways.

Read more: First figures on student acceptances by institution for 2015 published by Ucas

A study published last year by the Higher Education Academy found that students who went to university with vocational qualifications were less likely to achieve a first or 2:1 when they graduated.

However, the Ucas study says that many students with BTECs were “very successful” at university and often had much greater subject knowledge than A-level students if their vocational qualification was a good match for their degree.

Ucas suggests that universities should consider offering more targeted support to students from a vocational background, and should also ensure that entry requirements for these students were clear.

A Ucas study published last year, focusing only on 18-year-old applicants from the UK, found that 63 per cent of them applied with the traditional set of three A levels, down to 173,420 from 179,659 four years previously.

Students with BTECs, either on their own or in combination with A levels, accounted for 15 per cent of all UK 18-year-old applicants, up from 11 per cent in 2011. 

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: One in four entrants has a BTEC, study finds

Reader's comments (1)

The new standardised RQF is likely to encourage an increasing proportion of students entering university with this type of level 3 technical/vocational qualification, and therefore many more Distinction grades. Consequently, some universities that have historically offered matching levels 4-7 programmes, notably the post 92 types, might subsequently be able to build up the critical research mass in the related technical/professional subject fields needed to successfully gain top REF ratings, more level 8 Doctoral training and greater influence in shaping Innovate UK projects.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder