Guidance

Higher technical qualifications (HTQs)

Information and guidance on higher technical qualifications (HTQs)

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?

Please watch our Welcome to Higher Technical Qualifications video, which gives an introduction to HTQs.

HTQs

HTQs 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 HTQs 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 (HTQs) that provide the skills that employers want. Awarding bodies can submit qualifications to be approved as HTQs 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 the 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 for submissions of qualifications in Health and Science and Construction, with a further opportunity for Digital qualifications, closed in September 2021, with the approved qualifications due to be announced later this year.

The third approval cycle opened on 16 February 2022 and will close on 29 July. Cycle 3 is open for submissions for previously introduced routes, as well as:

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

A fourth cycle will follow in 2023 for:

  • Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care
  • Catering and Hospitality
  • Creative and Design
  • Hair and Beauty
  • Care Services
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Protective Services
  • Sales Marketing and Procurement

Funding

We are pleased to announce that from academic year 2023/24 we will be extending access to higher education (HE) student finance tuition fee loans for HTQs and allowing learners studying them part time to access maintenance loans, as they can with degrees. This change will help learners fit study around work and other commitments, allowing more people to upskill and retrain throughout their lives, moving towards the flexibility envisaged by the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE).

Through the Strategic Priorities Grant, we are also providing funding to encourage and support growth of level 4 and 5 provision. We have asked the OfS to allocate £8m in the 2022-23 financial year to providers with eligible learners on level 4 and 5 qualifications, through formula funding, to encourage greater provision of these qualifications. The details are set out in the Department’s guidance letter to the OfS. More broadly, in our SPG guidance to the OfS, we have confirmed capital funding of £450m for the financial years 2022-23 to 2024-25. We have asked that the OfS continue to allocate the majority of funds to providers through a competitive bidding process, to continue to target funds at specific projects and activities supporting high-quality, skills-based education, but to do so using a multi-year approach. The OfS will set out more detail in due course.

Strategic Priorities Grant funding will work alongside a further iteration of the Growth Fund, which will support providers with the upfront investments required to roll out HTQs, as a high-quality offer at levels 4 and 5. Together, the Strategic Priorities Grant and Growth Fund will support growth of level 4 and 5 provision up to 2025 and beyond.

The HE and LLE consultations

On 24 February we published a policy statement and consultation on HE reforms. The proposals put forward in this consultation are informed by the findings of the Independent Panel chaired by Sir Philip Augar, which prepared a report for the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding announced in February 2018, and respond to many of the HE related recommendations raised in the report. Taken together with the LLE consultation, these documents formally conclude the Review.

As part of this consultation, to support efforts to expand the level 4 and 5 market we are now seeking views on the barriers faced by providers in offering and promoting level 4 and 5 courses, the drivers of fees, and the role of the fees and funding system in affecting provider and learner behaviour. We are not proposing a change to fees. In the HE reform consultation we are also gathering views on how best to ensure that HTQs continue to deliver occupational competence in the more flexible, modular system that will be supported by the LLE.

Separately, we are also consulting on the detail and scope of the LLE. In the consultation we ask for opinions on which level 4 and 5 courses should be in scope for funding through the LLE and welcome views on how quality assessment and regulation could best work for level 4 and 5 technical education within the wider LLE context.

The consultations close on 6 May. You can find out more about the consultations and how to get involved using the links above.

Branding

We have developed a HTQs 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 HTQs
  • raise awareness of the HTQ 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:

Provider delivery toolkit

The provider delivery toolkit maps out the provider journey to successfully delivering approved HTQs. It includes provider-led suggestions on what activities and purchases they intend to make in order to deliver HTQs, as well as links to useful resources.

Published 3 November 2021
Last updated 19 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. We've added new sections on funding and the HE and LLE consultations.

  2. First published.