The Department for Education has published a consultation on reforming higher technical education alongside a case for change. This is work that officials started as part of the Level 4/5 review and that the Independent Post 18 review panel describe as necessary. The DfE consultation covers three areas and invites views by 29 September 2019:
- national approval of higher technical qualifications organised via the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) which will take advice from the panels establisehd to steer the T-level routes.
- regulation of awarding organisations and providers via Ofqual and the Office for Students respectively.
We welcome this consultation which is, in many respects, long overdue. Colleges are the key providers of level 4/5 provision in England and a majority of this provision is taught on a part time basis. An improved level 4 and 5 offer can help address skills shortages and improve productivity and present an opportunity to FECs to better meet the technical and professional needs of the economy. Colleges have been keen to contribute to this work but there is some nervousness that the focus on reforming qualifications and adjusting regulations could divert attention from the Post 18 review recommendations about capital funding, maintenance support for students taking Level 4 qualifications and removing the ELQ rules. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Office for Students will both need to raise their game to take on the tasks set out in the consultation.