BTEC National Qualifications A Guide for Higher Education Admissions Staff

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1 A Guide for Higher Education Admissions Staff Enhancing Progression Opportunities for Vocational Learners September 2009

2 CONTENTS Introduction 1 Structure 2 Duration of Course 2 Entry Requirements 2 Assessment 2 Unit Grading 3 Overall Grading 3 UCAS Tariff 3 Functional Skills 3 Other BTEC Qualifications 3 The Future 4 Progression Agreements 4 1. Introduction BTEC qualifications have been running for twenty five years and are offered by the Edexcel awarding body, created in 1996 by a merger of BTEC and the University of London Examinations and Assessment Council. BTEC remains a brand and is offered only by Edexcel. In 2007, more than one million students enrolled on a BTEC course. The level 3 BTEC National qualifications are work related qualifications which aim both to accommodate the needs of employers and to allow progression to university. They provide work related learning with key theoretical background, and are based on relevant National Occupational Standards (NOS) as determined by sector skills councils. BTECs are flexible, enabling students to study them full-time or part-time. They can be taken as well as, or in place of, GCSEs and A levels in schools and colleges, as part of an apprenticeship or as part of the Additional Specialist Learning (ASL) component of the new Advanced Diploma. Teaching of the new BTEC qualifications in their current form began in September They are currently undergoing further development to be accredited onto the new national Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) from September The BTEC National qualification is at NQF (National Qualifications Framework) level 3 and is expected to be accredited onto the QCF at level 3 (broadly equivalent to A levels). 1

3 2. Structure The BTEC National has three sizes : Award, Certificate and Diploma. The BTEC National Award: The 6-unit National Award seeks to provide a unit-based specialist qualification that focuses on particular aspects of employment within a vocational sector. The BTEC National Certificate: The 12-unit National Certificate seeks to provide a specialist work-related qualification that covers the key knowledge and practical skills required in a vocational sector and also offer a different emphasis through the choice of specialist units. It is broadly equivalent to two GCE A levels. The BTEC National Diploma: The 18-unit National Diploma extends and deepens the specialist focus available in the 12-unit Certificate. The qualification prepares learners for employment in the sector. It is broadly equivalent to three GCE A levels. 3. Duration of Course A BTEC National Diploma will generally take two years to complete by full time study. However, being a unit based qualification, the actual duration of the course is flexible, dependent on the size and level of the qualification and whether it is studied full or part time. The mode of study is determined by the provider. 4.Entry requirements at FE colleges for BTEC Nationals Entry requirements will vary but are generally a minimum of four GCSE passes at Grade C or above, including GCSE English or Key Skills Communication Level 2 or equivalent. Sometimes five GCSE passes or Maths or Science GCSEs may be specified, or for some subjects a portfolio. Alternatively a BTEC First Diploma may offer entry with a minimum overall grade specified. Mature students may be admitted with other relevant level 2 qualifications and knowledge and experience in the relevant sector or industry. 5. Assessment Each unit is assessed and graded through assignments. All units are internally assessed and assessments are constructed by the delivering organisation. Students will complete a range of assignments, case studies and practical activities. All assessment is quality assured through internal verification and Edexcel carry out external verification activities (including sampling assessors decisions using sector-specialist external verifiers). Award Certificate Diploma Units 6 units 12 units 18 units Equivalent to One GCE A level Two GCE A levels Three GCE A levels Breadth Choice of specialist units Deepened specialist focus 6. Unit Grading All assessment for BTEC Nationals is criterion referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit has specified criteria which are used for grading. A summative unit grade can be awarded at pass, merit or distinction: to achieve a pass a learner must have satisfied all the pass criteria to achieve a merit a learner must additionally have satisfied all the merit criteria to achieve a distinction a learner must additionally have satisfied all the distinction criteria. 7. Overall Grading BTEC National Award Is given a single grade of Pass, Merit or Distinction e.g. P, M,D. BTEC National Certificate Is given a double grade e.g. PP, MP, DD. BTEC National Diploma Is given a triple grade e.g. PPP, MMP, DDD. 8. BTEC Nationals included in the UCAS Tariff A BTEC National Award is equivalent to one GCE A Level (or two AS Levels), a BTEC National Certificate to two GCE A levels and a BTEC National Diploma to three GCE A Levels. Actual tariff points are determined by the overall grade. Where, for example, a learner has achieved an overall grade profile of 3 Merits - MMM - in the BTEC National Diploma this provides a learner with 3 A Level equivalence and 240 UCAS points. Grade Tariff Points Diploma Certificate Award DDD 360 DDM 320 DMM 280 MMM DD 240 MMP DM 200 MPP MM 160 PPP MP D 120 PP M 80 P Functional Skills At the moment functional or keys skills are not an integral part of BTEC Nationals, although they do provide the opportunity to achieve them. With the advent of key and functional skills the Common Skills which the BTEC Nationals contained in the past were removed from the qualification. Universities will therefore separately specify entry requirements for degree courses in terms of GCSE Maths and/or English or equivalents. 10. Other BTEC Qualifications Level 1 BTEC Introductory Level 2 BTEC First Level 3 BTEC National Level 4 (some at level 5) BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) Level 4 and 5 BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) 2 3

4 11. The Future When the BTEC National is accredited onto the QCF from October 2010 the structure of the qualification will be based upon the number of credits (based upon the number and size of units achieved) as opposed to the number of units themselves. Furthermore, the titles will be amended to reflect the qualification nomenclature of the QCF. The BTEC document BTEC in the Future highlights the use of the BTEC National as part of Additional Specialist Learning on the new Diploma. Additionally, once on the QCF, both qualifications and units could be part of the potential flexibility of the QCF for learners. 12. Progression Agreements As one of its core activities to support progression into higher education, Linking London LLN brokers and develops progression agreements between FE and HE institutions, which make clear entry requirements for BTEC National students and how applicants can expect to be treated in terms of offers, interviews and feedback. They also help to develop the ongoing relationships between course teams including discussing curricular issues. 13. Further Information For further information please contact: or visit Alternatively visit Edexcel s pages at This guide was prepared in collaboration with Edexcel by David Saunders, Credit and Progression Manager, Linking London Lifelong Learning Network, 4

5 The Linking London Lifelong Learning Network is a membership organisation of thirty five universities and colleges in Central, East and North London which aims to improve the progression of vocational learners into and through Higher Education. We are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and are hosted at Birkbeck, University of London, Egmont House, Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9UT. If you found this guidance document useful or would like to discuss our work in the area of vocational learning, please contact: or

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