Guidance

Higher technical education reforms

Latest information and guidance on reforms to higher technical education

Applies to England

Introduction

In July 2020, the Department for Education published the government’s response to the higher technical education consultation and our higher technical education reforms.

We are building a high-quality system of higher technical education where learners and employers can have confidence in high-quality courses that provide the skills they need to succeed, whether they are taught in a further education college, a university or an independent training provider. We want higher technical education to be a high-quality, prestigious and popular choice, which learners could consider alongside other routes such as apprenticeships, traineeships or degrees.

What are Higher Technical Qualifications

Higher Technical Qualifications are either new or existing Level 4 and 5 qualifications (such as HNDs/Foundation Degrees/Diploma HE) that have been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education as meeting occupational standards for the relevant sector. These qualifications have been developed by awarding bodies in collaboration with employers and businesses so that students get the specific training, knowledge and skills required for their chosen career.

The first teaching of approved Higher Technical Qualifications will be available from September 2022 starting with Digital, then Construction and Health and Science in 2023, with full roll-out over a four-year period.

Approvals process and cycles

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has launched a national opt-in approval scheme for new and existing qualifications, which will recognise prestigious Higher Technical Qualifications that provide the skills that employers want. Awarding bodies can submit qualifications to be approved against the Institute’s occupational standards at levels 4-5. In order to opt in, awarding bodies will need to meet the relevant regulatory requirements; HEIs must be registered with Office for Students (OfS) and qualifications designed by awarding organisations must be on the Ofqual register.

The first approvals cycle for Digital qualifications concluded in Summer 2021, with the first approved qualifications available to be taught from September 2022. Cycle 2 will launch on 5 July 2021 for submissions of qualifications for Health & Science and Construction, with a further opportunity for Digital qualifications.

This will be followed in 2022 by submissions for:

  • Business and Administration
  • Education and Childcare
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Legal, Finance and Accounting

These will be followed in 2023 by:

  • Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care
  • Catering and Hospitality
  • Creative and Design
  • Hair and Beauty

Branding

We have developed a Higher Technical Qualifications quality mark to be used prominently and clearly, as a vital part of our strategy to promote this new option to potential students.

Through the quality mark, we hope to:

  • promote approved Higher Technical Qualifications
  • raise awareness of the Higher Technical Qualification programme amongst potential students, employers and the general public
  • signal the employer value these courses offer

For more information about who can use the quality mark, and how it should be used, please see these guidelines:

Published 30 June 2021