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News & Views | BTEC

Mary Curnock Cook, the head of UCAS, says university admissions chiefs should consider more applicants with BTECs as she warns that the number of students with good A-levels is in decline

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Top universities should consider making more places available to students with vocational qualifications amid a continuing decline in A-level results, according to the head of the higher education admissions service.

Mary Curnock Cook said leading institutions could no longer afford to ignore sixth-formers leaving school with qualifications such as BTECs following a dramatic surge in vocational study rates over the last decade.

A-levels remain “by far the predominant qualification for university entrance”, she said, with many members of the elite Russell Group now demanding a string of A grades as a minimum requirement.

But she insisted the focus on A-levels “could restrict recruitment” in the future because the number of pupils taking academic qualifications has flat-lined while BTEC entries have soared.

She said applications received by UCAS this year indicated a further drop in the number of students predicted to score three A grades compared with 2013. Read full article...

In classrooms up and down the country we are still pedalling the notion that a degree is the only passport to success. This is simply not the case, says David Harbourne.

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Earlier this year the Edge Foundation released research that revealed many young people are being actively discouraged from opting for vocational pathways. As we face a future that will bring with it huge skills gaps, this is a worrying situation to be in. 

Many of the jobs that will need filling will not require a degree and yet in classrooms up and down the country we are still pedalling the notion that a degree is the only passport to success. This is simply not the case.

Too many graduates are finding themselves in non-graduate jobs on completing their studies. Not only does this push down graduates’ average pay, it also pushes young people without degrees further down the labour market’s rungs. Read full article...

The Rise of the Facebook Nation


When David Cameron became Britain's prime minister, he made an appointment to talk to another head of state — Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, that Mark Zuckerberg: the billionaire wunderkind, the founder of Facebook. At the meeting at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Cameron and Facebook president Zuckerberg discussed ways in which social networks could take over certain governmental duties and inform public policymaking.

Apprenticeships are a great way to make sure that you're hired

Students over the age of 16 who choose an apprenticeship are in good company, irrespective of the goings-on in Lord Sugar's boardroom. Notable apprentices throughout history have included Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and even Elvis, who was an apprentice electrician before putting on those blue suede shoes.

Modern apprenticeships have rather more structure and support than their predecessors, though, and are growing in popularity. According to the National Apprenticeship Service, there are currently 85,000 employers offering apprenticeships in 130,000 locations. With 200 apprenticeships to choose from, covering every industry from arts, media and publishing to engineering and manufacturing technologies, candidates will find many potential career paths open to them.

Interview with first BTEC tutor of the year


A South Thames College teacher has won Outstanding Tutor of the Year at the first national BTEC awards.

Euthan Newman, who teaches health and social care, was praised by judges for his outstanding commitment to his students.

"I'm very grateful for this honour and I will continue trying to be a teacher worthy of the term 'outstanding'." Mr Newman told FE News.

Nearly one million UK students, aged 16 and up, are studying for BTEC qualifications, which cover subjects from sports to science.

The awards ceremony was held at the Royal Society of Arts, in London, on 7 July, attended by education leaders and policy makers including Skills Minister John Hayes.