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T Level decisions undermine confidence in qualification, says AoC

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

Recent decisions on T Levels are undermining confidence in the qualifications and making it harder for colleges to deliver the high-quality technical offer for young people, the Association of Colleges (AoC) has said.

In a letter to the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon today, AoC’s Chief Executive David Hughes said that colleges cannot make firm plans on T Levels if they do not have certainty and confidence about the future.

Colleges cannot recruit to the qualifications if learners and their advisers also lack that certainty and confidence, he added.

In the letter he said:

“As you know, the lead-in time to properly introduce new qualifications is long, allowing for marketing, CPD, development of teaching materials and so on. Beyond that, learners and their advisers want to know that the qualification will be around for the long term if they are to dedicate two years to it. Sadly, the lead-in times and the confidence in the longevity of T Levels have both been lacking.”

He highlighted three issues which have arisen in the past few days: further delays in introduction of qualifications and very late notice in the academic cycle, delays in information on funding and information on future pricing of T Level awarding organisation fees.

Reflecting on the last-minute decision to cancel plans to introduce a T Level in hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy, Mr Hughes said:

“The short-term damage in that sector is one thing, but the wider dent in confidence of the T Level programme is enormous. I fear that many college leaders, students and their advisers will be even more wary of all T Levels now because they cannot be certain about their future.”

On delays in information on funding, Mr Hughes said:

“2024/25 will be the fifth year in which colleges and other institutions are running T Levels but even this late in the academic year, no firm information is available on the revenue funding rates and rules.”

He added that he was “alarmed” at the proposal on future pricing of T Level fees seen in the tender documents and the potential impact on the T Level programme and on individual colleges.

The full letter can be read here.

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