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Level 4 and 5 education: Universities UK briefing

Briefing Report
21 February 2020


What is Level 4/5 Education?

Level 4/5 refers to a certain skills level and includes qualifications such as apprenticeships, ‘technical education’,
HNCs, NVQs, foundation degrees and the first two years of an undergraduate degree. People tend to be familiar with the route whereby learners progress straight from Level 3 to 6 (ie A Levels to undergraduate degree) but many options exist.

Why is it important? 

Level 4/5 qualifications provide an opportunity for those whose highest qualification is Level 3 to develop their skills and enhance their job prospects. As the labour market changes due to technological advancements people will be required to increasingly re-skill and up-skill throughout their lives. Level 4/5 qualifications are particularly valued in engineering and construction; areas where skills shortages exist

What can the government do? 

  • Change the regulatory system to recognise the Level 4/5 components of an undergraduate degree. Students and universities should not be penalised when only one or two years of a degree is completed.

  • Make developmental funding available for new provision and collaboration to meet increased Level 4/5 skills needs in specific regions and sectors.

  • Invest in efforts, including improved careers advice, to increase the number of learners on Level 4/5 programmes; these should be directed at those not intending to progress past Level 3, rather than re-routing them from Level 6 options.

  • Reform Equivalent Level Qualification (ELQ) rules to allow people to take on Level 4, 5 and 6 skills throughout their lives
    as the needs of employers change.

  • Any changes to the regulatory landscape should be proportionate and efficient, and not favour technical over non-technical courses.


Read the full briefing as a pdf

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