Banging on the Door of the University: The Complexities of Progression from Apprenticeship and other Vocational Programmes in England
This monograph examines the extent to which vocational qualifications and apprenticeship programmes are accepted by higher education institutions (HEIs) in England when considering candidates for entry to degree courses. It argues that the prospects for progression for those with vocational, as opposed to academic, qualifications need urgent attention. Four illustrative examples drawing on statistical and documentary evidence are presented. The analysis raises serious questions about the currency of Advanced Apprenticeship and Level 3 vocational qualifications for entrance to higher education (HE) and the extent to which participation from this potential pipeline is likely to increase. The paper also argues that the further segmentation of the HE sector in England currently taking place and the challenge to the concept of whole stand-alone qualifications through the introduction of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) will further undermine access to HE for apprentices. This paper exposes systemic barriers to progression built into the structure of education and training in England and calls for an urgent and independent review of the regulation, role, content and use of vocational qualifications.