Hinds: 'Error' for Russell Group to reject T levels

Universities that offer relevant courses should accept T levels students, education secretary Damian Hinds has said

George Ryan

Education secretary Damian Hinds explains the focus of his new teacher recruitment and retention strategy

It would be a "great error" for the Russell Group universities to reject future T-level students, Damian Hinds has said.

The education secretary was speaking at the site of the redevelopment on Battersea Power Station in south London, announcing plans for a new suite of higher technical qualifications at level 4 and 5, designed to boost productivity in the UK.

Mr Hinds confirmed that Ucas points for university applications will be awarded for T levels, with “each programme carrying the same Ucas points as three A levels”. But with different numbers of Ucas points allocated for different A-level grades, it is not yet clear exactly how many Ucas points a T level will be worth.

In February, a Tes investigation found that more than half of Russell Group universities were still undecided as to whether they would except T-level students onto their courses.

When asked today by Tes whether he thought the UK's top universities should take T level students, Mr Hinds said: “It depends on the course. If you’re doing a T level in a particular technical subject, there are also university degrees that follow on from those – accountancy, for example, it makes sense to go on to an accountancy degree.

'Missing out on talent'

He added: "I think to make a blanket rejection if you have those kinds of courses on – and not all universities do – but if you do and you reject people coming from the T level route, I think that is great error and you will be missing out on talent.”

One university, Imperial College London, said it would not accept T level students because it "did not believe that T levels provide a suitable preparation for students" for the rigours of its study programmes.

2022 for new higher technical qualifications 

University College London said it did not plan to accept T level students "at present", and the vice chancellor of Oxford University said the elite institution would "wait and see" before making a decision.

Earlier, Mr Hinds said reforms were needed in the space between A levels and honours degrees, currently occupied by the likes of HNDs and foundation degrees to “help more people get on in their careers and employers to access the skills they need".

In October 2017, the Department for Education announced a review into higher-level technical education, looking across level 4 and 5 provision. Mr Hinds said the Institute for Apprenticeships would work with employers to make sure these new qualifications are available for the first "T levels graduates" in 2022. 

Next T levels announced

Mr Hinds announced the next wave of T levels that will be delivered from September 2021.

These will be: health, healthcare science, science, on-site construction, building services engineering, digital support and services and digital business services.

The first three T levels which will be taught from September 2020 are design, surveying and planning; digital production, design and development; and education and childcare.

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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

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