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Fewer students with higher grades at BTEC going to university, figures show

The dip in numbers blamed on removal of some vocational qualifications from performance measures

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The dip in numbers blamed on removal of some vocational qualifications from performance measures

The growth in students being admitted to university with higher grades at BTEC has been thrown into reverse, new figures show.

The number of students holding equivalent to ABB or higher at BTEC being accepted to university fell from 46,230 last year to 45,910 this year. This follows typical annual increases of 4,000 in recent years, admissions body UCAS has said.

The drop in high-performing BTEC students going to university comes two years after changes limiting which vocational qualifications could be included in school performance measures came into effect.

For example, vocational qualifications such as BTECs no longer count as more than one GCSE.

The news comes shortly after it emerged that more pupils at private schools were taking BTEC qualifications.

The number of A-level students with at least ABB being accepted to university is similar to last year, despite a falling 18-year-old population, the figures show.

Students with higher grades at A level total 88,120, a small decrease on last year where 88,770 were accepted.

Overall, universities have accepted 7,000 more students onto undergraduate courses this year than last.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS’ chief executive said: “While vocational qualifications such as BTEC have been important drivers of widening participation in recent years, I also welcome the stability of A level numbers this year, despite the slight shift to lower grade profiles. 

“Students with even quite modest A levels have more choice of university courses and the evidence points to better retention and success once at university.”

Numbers going to university with BTEC grades equivalent to ABB or higher:






ABB+ with BTEC





Source: UCAS


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