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Conservative T-level chaos threatens future healthcare workforce Labour warns as nearly half of students drop out

Toby Perkins

Conservative-made chaos in the roll out of new T-level qualifications is putting the future healthcare workforce under threat, Labour has warned today, as results data shows nearly half of students enrolled in health and science T-levels have dropped out of their course.

New data reveals that just 827 students completed a health or healthcare science or science T-level this summer, compared to 1,510 who enrolled on these courses in 2021, meaning 45% of students have withdrawn during the two-year course. This compares with an estimated 8% of students studying BTECs and 5% of A Level students. 

These findings come alongside a 13% drop in the number of students moving on to studying nursing at university, with the Conservatives planning to remove the alternative BTEC qualifications in health, public health or care which over 35,000 students collected results for this summer.

This follows chaos last summer, when the watchdog found the Health and Science T-level exam was not fit for purpose prompting students to quit the course and results to be regraded.

Nearly a third of students have dropped out of T levels overall this year, leading to former Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi agreeing that the qualification faces an “existential problem”.

The Government introduced T-levels in 2020, and are now moving to scrap the alternative vocational BTEC qualifications. Yet the new qualifications have been plagued by difficulties, with Ofsted recently warning that students have been mis-sold qualifications and teachers are struggling to deliver the new courses.

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, said:

“There is no NHS without its incredible nurses, who go above and beyond to care for us all. These figures are incredibly concerning for the future of the health service.

“T-levels should be an important route for young people, but the Conservatives’ bungling has left the entire programme in chaos – with potentially disastrous consequences for the future healthcare workforce, given plans to bin BTEC qualifications.

“Labour will protect the future of our NHS by healthcare workforce, by treating nurses with the respect they deserve, train thousands more nurses a year, and give burnt out NHS staff some light at the end of the tunnel.

“We will get the T-level programme working again, and ensure every young person has access to high quality vocational and technical training pathways so that background is no barrier to any of our young people getting on.”

  • Nearly half of students enrolled on health, healthcare science, or science T-levels dropped out:
Enrolments (2021)1,510
Completions (2023)827
% Completing55%

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