Colleges welcome the new academic diplomas as an opportunity for them to show that traditional subjects can be taught in a more relevant way.
Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, this week announced that vocational diplomas would be joined by new options in science, languages and the humanities.
At the same time, the review of the future of A-levels will be postponed from next year to 2013, when all options for 14 to 19 qualifications will be examined.
Maggie Scott, director of learning at the Association of Colleges, said she believed the announcement meant that diplomas could become the single qualification of choice by 2013, finally fulfilling one of the key recommendations of the Tomlinson report on 14 to 19 education.
She said: "It is particularly poignant that areas such as languages and science, which generate greatest concern in the curriculum in terms of take-up, have been singled out for diploma delivery, indicating that traditional methods of delivery are turning students off and new schemes of learning, in which colleges specialise, are key to reinvigorating subjects."
The academic qualifications will be shaped by a new advisory group that will include Sir Mike Tomlinson, whose review of 14 to 19 education proposed diplomas.
Mr Balls said that the Government was not prejudging whether diplomas could coexist with A-levels and GCSEs in the future.
"Diplomas will open up real opportunities for combining academic and practical options to allow every young person to make the most of their talents," he said, "whether they are progressing to further study, work or an apprenticeship."
Full reports, TES pages 1 amp; 16-17.