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UK expats: Join the fight to save BTECs.
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UK expats: Join the fight to save BTECs.

by Tabitha BardaOctober 25, 2021

A UK government and parliament petition to save BTEC qualifications from being defunded has garnered almost 50,000 signatures. UK expats living in the UAE and any other British citizens can join the fight to protect the BTEC by signing the petition online. Once there are more than 100,000 signatures, the petition must be considered for debate in the UK parliament.

Why is the BTEC being threatened?

The BTEC is set to lose funding over the course of the next four years, as the UK’s Department of Education’s attention turns to the proposed alternative: T-levels. These are set to be the ‘technical’ equivalent of A-levels, offering students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).

However, defenders of the BTEC believe that T-levels are by no means the equivalent of the well-established BTEC. Only 20 T-level subjects areas are being mooted – and many of these are not even due for introduction until 2023 – as compared with the expansive choice of more than 2,000 BTEC subjects on offer.

Withdrawing funding from the BTEC in favour of the T-level will also undermine the hard-won credibility of BTECs, discouraging schools from introducing new topic areas and as result reducing both the power and the scope of BTECs in the future.

What are the benefits of the BTEC for students?

The BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) Extended Diploma qualification is a vocational alternative to the more academic A-level or IB qualifications for students over the age of 16.

BTECs are a great option for students with a particular leaning towards a certain career or industry, who enjoy a practical rather than academic approach to learning. They suit those who are technically or creatively strong and see a clear route to their preferred profession, as well as those who prefer ongoing, continuous assessment rather than a single period of high-pressure exams.

Although academic subjects have traditionally been the mainstream qualification option, vocational alternatives such as the BTEC have become very popular over the years and now have widespread credibility amongst schools and universities all over the world.

Originating from the UK, there are around 2,000 BTEC subjects across 16 sectors available to study, ranging from engineering to early-years childcare, and computer science to art, design and media. More than 95% of UK universities accept BTEC qualifications

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In the UAE, more than 30 schools offer BTEC qualifications, spanning business, sport, performing arts, art and design, with even BTECs in E-sports and Creative Media Game Design recently introduced. These highly relevant and hyper-modern subjects, related to multi-billion-dollar sectors, highlight the ability of the BTEC model to react quickly to industry and student demand.

Read more about the BTEC and why they are the preferred choice of Olympians and many universities.

How to help save the BTEC and protect student choice

UK citizens living in the UAE or anywhere can sign the online petition to reverse the plan to withdraw funding for BTECs, as well as most other applied general qualifications, and guarantee they will continue to play a major role in the qualifications landscape.

The petition states: “Students should not be forced to choose between studying A levels or T levels from the age of 16.

“For many young people, studying BTECs will continue to be the most effective way of accessing higher education or skilled employment. These well-established, high-quality qualifications are popular with students and respected by employers and universities. They can be studied alongside, or instead of, A levels and provide an important alternative to T levels. Removing BTECs will leave many students without a viable pathway after their GCSEs, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Read more on why abolishing the BTEC could spectacularly backfire.

© SchoolsCompared.com. 2021. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of SchoolsCompared.com. Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and Parents United's WHICHPlaydates - a regular meeting place for UAE parents to discuss the issues that matter to them, make friends and network with others. You can often find Tabitha too on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

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