Higher Technical and Professional Learning

Higher Technical and Professional Learning

UVAC is well connected with HEFCE, DfE, ESFA and the Institute for Apprenticeships and represents the HE sector on the skills, work-based learning and Apprenticeship agendas

For many years, UVAC has emphasised several challenges, including:

‘The broken bridge’the lack of progression from Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications at level 3 to higher level learning for those following vocational programmes

‘The level 4 and 5 challenge’ – the decline in numbers and provision and limited offer

As part of UVAC’s work with partners, we have established a Higher Education and Awarding Organisation Vocational Qualifications Committee, supported by Ofqual and UCAS and agreed a Programme of Development Work to address the challenges we identify and enable HEIs to play a key role in the developing technical qualifications agenda, access new cohorts of potential students with different types of qualification and widen access and enhance social mobility.

Aim – to advise upon and additionally oversee a programme of work to explore, develop awareness of and facilitate Awarding Organisation and HEI partnership and collaboration for the benefit of learners and employers.


  1. To develop a greater awareness and understanding in HEIs of the role and work of Awarding Organisations, Ofqual regulated qualifications reform, Level 3 vocational qualifications and the portfolio of qualifications and services offered by Awarding Organisations
  2. To develop appropriate factsheets on the new Tech Level and Applied General qualifications: HEAO-techlevel-leaflet-aug2017 & HEAO-appliedgenerals-leaflet-aug2017
  3. To support our member organisations in their work with academics and subject experts to ensure the technical qualification within new T level programmes prepares students for relevant higher education courses. NCFE/Cache have produced a guidance note for HE: NCFE-HEengagement-24sep2018
  4. To develop a greater awareness and understanding in Awarding Organisations of HEI approaches to work-based learning, accreditation of competence as well as knowledge, the HEI role in Apprenticeship, collaboration with professional bodies, work placements and the range of qualifications offered
  5. To identify, disseminate and promote (as appropriate) the benefits of collaboration between Awarding Organisations and HEIs
  6. To test and facilitate approaches to the development and operation of partnership between Awarding Organisations and HEIs and disseminate successful models. This would involve supporting Awarding Organisations (collectively and, where appropriate, individually) develop contacts and partnerships with individual HEIs focused on:
  • The development, review and support for Level 3 vocational qualifications
  • Apprenticeship delivery and assessment
  • Progression to HE/articulation between Awarding Organisation, Level 4 and 5 qualifications and HE programmes
  • Collaboration on the accreditation of competence, placements, qualifications development
  1. To support Awarding Organisations work with HEIs in requesting a UCAS tariff for specific Level 3 vocational qualifications – subject to discussions with UCAS
  2. To support and advise HEIs on how HE programmes can be designed and delivered to cater to the needs of learners who have followed Level 3 vocational programmes
  3. To support and advise HEIs on how to recruit learners who have followed Level 3 vocational programmes
  4. To facilitate the provision of advice to DfE, ESFA, HEFCE, Ofqual, QAA and UCAS through UVAC and the Federation of Awarding Bodies on issues relating to the Awarding Organisation/HE interface which facilitated a better offering to learners and employers

The rationale for HE:

  • Recruitment of Students The number of 18 – 20 year olds reached a peak in 2011. The decline in 18 – 20 year olds will continue to decline until 2021 (rising thereafter) by when the population of this age group will be 14% lower than in 2011. To maintain the level of current 18-20 recruitment to HE in the short to medium term, HEIs will have to attract and recruit a higher proportion of the cohort.  A focus on Level 3 vocational qualifications could represent a way for HEIs to recruit new students.  A substantial number of young people are attracted by and follow vocational qualifications at Level 3.  BTECs are the most well-known qualification, but approximately 200,000 learners also follow other Level 3 vocational qualifications.
  • Widening Access and Social Mobility – For HEIs a focus on vocational qualifications at level 3 could represent a useful approach to widening access and social mobility, beyond the traditional A Level cohort.
  • Employer Engagement – Collective approaches to working with employers could be beneficial to both HEIs and Awarding Organisations.
  • Higher and Degree Apprenticeship, Technical and Associate Professional Provision – Awarding Organisations could well represent key partners for HEIs in responding to the developing Higher and Degree Apprenticeship agenda.  They could also be key partners in supporting the development of technical and associate professional level provision at level 4 and 5.

We invite you to join our bi-annual meetings in London. To learn more about the Higher Education and Awarding Organisation Vocational Qualifications Committee and membership please contact UVAC’s Chief Executive, Adrian Anderson at [email protected] or Director of Policy and Operations, Mandy Crawford-Lee at [email protected].

Link here for UVAC’s response to Government’s consultation on T-levels, February 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/implementation-of-t-level-programmes