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The power of BTECS

power of btec.jpg

Forget A-levels: there’s a new kid on the block.

Well, not exactly ‘new’. In fact, this ‘kid’ has been around for over 30 years, but he’s having a bit of a second coming. That’s right, I’m referring to the BTEC qualification.

Over the last few years there’s been a steady increase of people not just taking BTECs, but taking them and using them as a progression route to higher education. So much importance is placed on A levels as a pre-qualifier for university that BTECs can be forgiven for feeling a bit neglected.

The reality is that BTECs provide a route into higher education that is just as credible and desirable to admissions officers at 95% of UK higher education providers as A levels. BTEC Level 3 is the equivalent of studying of an A-level, whereas with the BTEC Level 4 HNC and Level 5 HND you could even begin your degree in as a second or final year student.

BTECs have their advantages as an alternative model of study. Results come out earlier, meaning that if you have decided to use Clearing to secure your university place you have a lot more time to consider your options and beat the A-level results day rush. This year Clearing opened on the 1st July, and BTEC results started coming out on the 8th, so BTEC students had more than a month’s head start on those eagerly awaiting A-level results.

They also offer a different method of study. As A-level qualifications are becoming more linear, focused on a final exam at the end of the year, BTECs provide an alternative assessment method to those whose style of learning is not best suited to formal examinations. BTECs are composed of a number of units, and your assessment will involve demonstrating the skills and knowledge you have learnt through practical situations and evidence, based on real-life work and studies.

There is also the fact that BTECs are vocational courses, very much aligned to professional realities. This means that you will learn skills and knowledge that you can apply to a specific profession or sector. If you want to go on and study a vocational or more professionally-focused course at university, a BTEC could give you handy head start.

Don’t want to pigeon-hole yourself? The best thing about BTECs and A-levels is that these qualifications can be mixed. If you wanted to go on to study engineering, for example, this means you can do a BTEC in Applied Science and match it with a Physics A-level, ensuring you tick both the theoretical and practical boxes.

Any previous stigma about BTECs is fast being replaced by the fact that more and more people are studying for them, and more and more universities accepting them not only as a valid qualification, but valuing the experience and different skill set possessed by those qualifying.

They may have been around for a while, but in the current climate, where the skills deficit is a harsh reality, BTECs have never been more valuable.

Susie King is Head of Admissions at the University of Bedfordshire. Entry requirements at Bedfordshire range from 200 to 280 tariff points. For more information on courses available through Clearing, call 0300 3300 03 or visit www.beds.ac.uk/makeithappen

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