Report calls for support for BTEC students entering university education – Archive – News archive


  • A project to remove barriers faced by high-performing students with alternative A-level qualifications, who continue their education in competitive courses at university, found that misconceptions still exist about their abilities and qualifications.
  • The results show an increase in the number of students entering university with equivalent qualifications such as BTEC, with T levels and apprenticeships intended to further reinforce this trend.
  • Students entering university courses with equivalent qualifications tend to perform worse than A-level students only
  • The report can help inform the government review of higher education and provide recommendations to support the transition to university-level studies.

Students entering university with equivalent qualifications such as BTECs are getting better support in overcoming obstacles in their transition to higher education, according to a report led by the University of Sheffield.

Results released today (May 14, 2018) mark the end of an 18-month collaborative project to challenge preconceptions and remove barriers faced by high-performing BTEC students who continue their education in courses competitive at university.

Launched in response to changing trends in student entrance qualifications and recent government higher education exams, the project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has shown an increase in the number of incoming students. at university with equivalent qualifications such as BTEC. T-levels and apprenticeships are expected to further increase this trend towards a greater mix of pre-entry level qualifications, however, the results suggest that equivalent qualifications can still often be considered a second-class qualification. – a stereotype that must be questioned.

It is crucial to tackle misconceptions about students who come to university via BTEC qualifications equivalent to those on the traditional A-level academic path.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice President for Education

The study involved schools and colleges working with the University of Sheffield to undertake a practical set of activities aimed at better understanding and potentially supporting students, with top marks in qualifications equivalent to A levels in their transition to the University studies. The Sheffield-focused results are expected to reflect the problems faced nationally by students entering the university with equivalent qualifications.

The report also pointed out that students entering university courses with equivalent qualifications tended to perform worse than A-level students and were sometimes faced with different assumptions and perceptions than those entering with qualifications. Traditional Level A. The study aimed to learn more about the reasons and suggest ideas for ensuring that universities, schools and colleges can better prepare top-performing students with alternative qualifications for success in the Higher Education.

Other findings included:

  • The need for a better understanding by schools of the essential and desirable skills that learners should acquire before entering higher education, especially to enable students to cope with the exam objective of many university courses .
  • Adjusting university teaching and assessment methods to better understand the content and value of equivalent qualifications in terms of the particular strengths they bring.
  • The reformed BTEC qualification prepares students for university better than ever, but understanding the qualifications and matching the curriculum should be at the heart of any university’s recruiting work.
  • Dramatic differences in the number of students entering Sheffield University with equivalent qualifications by department, suggesting a disciplinary approach.
  • The importance of a better understanding of BTEC and other equivalent qualifications in higher education in order to challenge misconceptions and biased perceptions by supporting more informed viewpoints.

The project provides recommendations to UK universities to better support BTEC students transitioning to higher education. These include universities and schools or colleges that work more closely with each other to help dispel the myths around BTEC. This in turn would allow admissions and academic staff to make informed decisions about the appropriate match between students’ prior qualifications and chosen academic courses.

The report also underlined the importance for universities to support an inclusive teaching and learning environment, with a greater awareness of the impact of negative and preconceived views on equivalent qualifications on students. In this context, an activity to support the transition to higher education for students with equivalent qualifications – such as summer schools – would be beneficial.

Finally, the report suggests that universities clarify their admission criteria to ensure that equivalent qualifications, including BTECs, are clearly highlighted by discipline as appropriate entry requirements in university prospectuses.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice President of Education at the University of Sheffield, said: “It is crucial to tackle misconceptions about students who come to the university via equivalent BTEC qualifications compared to those from the traditional A-level academic path, as higher education should be open to all with talent and ability.

“The results helped us to increase awareness and understanding of equivalent qualifications, and provided universities with recommendations to further develop their own teaching and support in order to continue to provide students with the best possible university experience.

“At a crucial time when the government is reviewing higher education, we hope the findings can help inform universities across the country to ensure that students don’t think we are putting obstacles in their way to success. “

Finding Potential: How a Selective University Can Attract and Retain High Quality Students with Qualifications Equivalent to A Levels

Will be available for download from 5 p.m. on Monday May 14, 2018.

Additional information

University of Sheffield

With nearly 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the world’s top academics, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the prestigious Russell Group of the United Kingdom, made up of leading research institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence in a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, university staff and students are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to be featured in the Sunday Times 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for 2018 and over the past eight years it has been ranked among the top five UK universities for student satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Laureates among former staff and students, and its alumni hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and customers include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as numerous UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For more information, please contact:

Shemina davis
Head of Media Relations
University of Sheffield
0114 222 5339


Comments are closed.