Universities shun T-levels as UCAS deadline approaches

Russell Group members among those that won't accept new technical qualifications

Russell Group members among those that won't accept new technical qualifications


Less than half of universities have confirmed they will accept T-levels for entry this year, with many Russell Group institutions turning their backs on the new technical qualifications.

An investigation by Schools Week’s sister paper FE Week found many universities are still yet to decide whether to accept the qualifications, less than two weeks before the UCAS deadline for 2022 admissions.

T-levels are equivalent to three A-levels and have UCAS tariff points allocated to them.

The first students began their two-year courses in digital, construction or education and childcare in September 2020, and will now be deciding their next steps.

T-levels were designed so students can enter work straightaway, but ministers insist the qualifications are a viable entry route to university.

At the end of last term, the Department for Education published a list of institutions that had confirmed T-levels were suitable for at least one of their courses.

Eighty were listed, of which 66 were traditional universities. There are 140 universities in the UK, meaning just 47 per cent currently accept T-level students.

Elite universities not accepting T-levels

Ten of the 24 universities in the elite Russell Group are so far not accepting T-levels.

The University of Oxford said T-levels alone were “unlikely to satisfy the requirements for entry, as they are technical qualifications, while all degree courses at Oxford are highly academic”.

Cambridge University said the three initial T-level subjects “would not be a natural fit” with any of their degrees.

The DfE urged universities to provide “transparent information about their entry requirements” as soon as possible.

The government’s own list does not include details of courses for which T-levels are accepted. Instead, students are encouraged to “look at UCAS and at their preferred higher education provider’s website”.

Around 1,300 students studied the first three T-levels in 2020 and a further 5,450 signed up in 2021. Ten subjects are now on offer at over 100 institutions, though this includes less than 10 schools.

The DfE said it expected the number of universities accepting T-levels “to grow in the coming weeks”.

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  1. Typical response from Universities. The academic content of T levels is significant, and coupled with the industry placement will equip students to meet the demands of University. We need to stop this worn out view of academic attainment being the only measure of success.

  2. My son who gained 10 GCSE at grade 6-9, decided to follow a T level course in construction. He thoroughly investigated whether Universities would accept T-Levels and received positive responses from over 10 universities that he asked. Having nearly completed his course and predicted to get an elusive Distinction Star (168 UCAS pts) he is now being told by those same universities that they would prefer A-levels. He is more that capable of doing A-levels and is disappointed by this u-turn in opinion about T-levels.