The number of university applicants holding vocational qualifications has increased sharply, new figures show.
Latest statistics released by the admissions body Ucas show the number of 18-year-olds with BTEC qualifications applying for undergraduate study grew 18 per cent in 2015, according to a report released on 25 June.
In total, some 42,130 students applied with some form of BTEC in the latest admissions cycle, up by 6,300 students on 2014.
Around 11,000 of these students also study for A levels.
The majority of young people (63 per cent) still apply with A-levels, with 173,420 applicants studying for three or more A levels, Ucas says. However, that is 6,239 students fewer than those who applied in 2011.
It means those studying for BTECs, either on their own or in combination with A levels, now account for 15 per cent of all UK 18-year-old applicants, up from 11 per cent in 2011.
Ucas chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, has previously said it is “hard to ignore the increasing importance of vocational qualifications such as BTECs” and that policymakers should “consider ways to increase participation in A levels”.
She has also warned about the shift from A levels to BTECs, saying that they “typically produce students who are well versed in practical and laboratory work but who might struggle to cope with the extending reading and writing required for many courses, let alone for exams themselves”.
Figures released last year show that the number of BTEC holders who go on to take up places at large, non-specialist institutions has almost doubled since 2008 to 85,000, with many of them going on to highly selective institutions.
The latest report also shows the popularity of the International Baccalaureate has waned in the past four years, with the number of students applying to university who hold that qualification falling by 15 per cent to just over 2,500.