From education to employment

Effectiveness of the Level 4 and 5 qualifications and provider market

Research into how effective providers and awarding organisations design and provide Level 4-5 qualifications.

The Department for Education (DfE) commissioned ICF Consulting to undertake a study to examine the functioning of the Level 4 and 5 (L4-5) qualification and provider market, in order to support its review of L4-5 education.

This research supports the department’s review of Level 4-5 (L4-5) education, examining the characteristics of and effectiveness of the Level 4-5 qualification and provider market.

Aims, objectives and scope of the study

The study examines the characteristics and effectiveness of the L4-5 market. It specifically explores supply-side dimensions, which include:

  • Factors that influence the design and development of L4-5 qualifications by awarding organisations (AOs) and higher education institutions (HEIs);
  • The factors that influence the provision of L4-5 qualifications by Higher Education (HE) providers (universities and alternative HE providers) and further education (FE) providers (colleges, private training providers, community learning providers); and
  • The identification of any barriers that may inhibit them, such as any unintended consequences arising from current legislation, policy and funding arrangements, as well as any particular issues related to learner demand/choices and the interplay between L4-5 and other qualification markets;

The research focuses on L4-5 programmes that are not delivered as part of an apprenticeship framework or standard. It draws on data on L4-5 provision approved for public funding which was delivered in 2016/17.

It does not include vendor qualifications perceived to be at L4-5 which are not eligible for public funding. The study does not explicitly explore the demand-side of the L4-5 market.

Specifically, it does not explore the reasons why learners choose or do not choose to undertake L4-5 programmes, and employer and learner perceptions of L4-5 qualifications. This means the study is not able to robustly identify information asymmetries and other demand-side factors that are inhibiting the take-up of L4-5 qualifications.


Review of the Level 4-5 qualification and provider market

Ref: ISBN 978-1-78105-994-4, DFE-RR911PDF, 1.57MB, 113 page

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