UCAS’ Points Plan For Apprenticeships

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June 4th – UCAS, the higher education admissions body, has unveiled its long-awaited plan to award UCAS points to level 3 apprenticeships. This marks a significant shift in how vocational qualifications are valued in the university admissions process.

What Does This Mean?

Starting this September, individuals completing level 3 apprenticeships could earn up to 112 UCAS points, depending on the length of their program. This move aims to place apprenticeships on an equal footing with A-levels and other level 3 qualifications, making it easier for universities to compare applicants from different educational backgrounds. However, apprenticeships shorter than two years will not meet the typical minimum entry requirements for undergraduate courses, which generally range from 72 to 128 points.

How It Works

The proposed model bases the UCAS points on the expected duration set by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE):

  • Two-year apprenticeship: Equivalent to three grade C A-levels, yielding 96 UCAS points.
  • 18-month apprenticeship: Earns 64 points.
  • 12-month program: Awarded 48 points.

To use these points, apprentices must pass their end-point assessment.

Official Statements

Lindsay Conroy, head of apprenticeships at UCAS, stated that this initiative is intended to “position level 3 apprenticeships on an equal footing with A-level, T Levels, and other UK level 3 programs of study.” She emphasised the importance of ensuring that all pathways are visible to students, maintaining a fair and informed admissions system.

Regional Differences and Solutions

The announcement also highlighted concerns about potential advantages for apprentices in England, where apprenticeships can last longer than in Northern Ireland, which has a two-year maximum duration. Additionally, while English apprentices can achieve pass, merit, or distinction grades, their counterparts in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland can only achieve a pass. To address this difference, UCAS’s proposed model allocates points for a pass uniformly across the UK.

Broader Implications

UCAS noted that level 4 and 5 apprentices can already apply for degree-level courses through the existing accreditation of prior learning (APL) admissions process. This new points system for level 3 apprenticeships is part of a broader effort to ensure vocational and technical programs receive the recognition they deserve alongside academic equivalents.

Since announcing its intention to award UCAS points to apprenticeships in March 2023, UCAS has collaborated with over 60 organisations across the UK to develop these proposals. The consultation on these plans will close on June 20, 2024, inviting feedback from stakeholders to refine and finalise the approach.

Proposed UCAS Traffic Points for Apprenticeships

Duration UCAS Points
36 month+ 112
24 months 92
18 months 64
12 months 48

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