Building Bridges to Success: An institutional initiative to support BTEC students’ success.

Smith, Mark F (2018) Building Bridges to Success: An institutional initiative to support BTEC students’ success. In: HEA Attainment Symposium: Closing the Attainment Gap: Student Success for All, 23rd May 2019, York.

Full text not available from this repository.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Other)
Item Status:Live Archive


While BTEC vocational qualifications are broadly praised for having widened access to university over recent years, it is recognised that this brings its challenges to higher education providers, Schools and Colleges. Recent national reports have highlighted that with the growth of students with BTEC qualifications entering into higher education, an imperative for Universities, working in partnerships with Schools and Colleges, will be to strengthen the support for Higher Education practitioners, Secondary Education providers and students.

A recent report by the Social Marketing Foundation showed that increasing numbers of young people are going into higher education with BTECs, and that the increase is particularly pronounced for young people taking a combination of BTECs and A levels. Entry into higher education for those with BTECs is growing particularly fast for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. One in four students (> 100,000) entering university now have a BTEC qualification compared to just under 50,000 less than a decade ago. With acceptance of those with BTECs and a combination of BTECs and A levels increasing rapidly, almost doubling in the last eight years, it is incumbent on universities to ensure equity of academic opportunity

As recently written by Gabriel Huntley, Head of Communications and External Relations at University Alliance (WonkHe, Jan 2018) “Universities must ensure students can succeed regardless of the qualifications they come with, and where university experience is still predominantly designed for students arriving with A-Levels, may need to change practices and processes to ensure BTEC students can succeed”.

Pragmatically, studying vocational qualifications differ from that of A-levels: the nature of the curriculum and the associated study skills for example, often based more around practical learning and evaluated on the basis of a portfolio of work, compared with the more academic mode of study for A-levels. Evidence from across the sector, QAA research and more recent work undertaken at the University reveals a more complex picture. A change of learning environment, different expectations of our teaching approaches and assessments, access to a more diverse range of learning resources and services, an increased requirement to engage in self-directed learning outside of formal teaching, and having to make new friends in larger cohort groups, present unique challenges for students entering into higher education. Recognising these and then developing support systems to encourage all to reach their potential bridges the gap.

The University of Lincoln’s Building Bridges to Success project aims to address some of these challenges, exploring educational experiences across the secondary-to-tertiary transition and how this translates to the academic and student experience. Findings already indicate the importance, yet sensitivity, of metrics in shaping intervention strategies both at local programme level and for the wider institution. This workshop reported on some of these initial activities and findings from student, academic and partner provider perspectives, capturing both challenges and opportunities for narrowing the attainment gap. How outcomes have begun to shape practice were evidenced and the future direction of activity in partnership with all stakeholders explored.

Keywords:Higher Education, Widening Access
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science
ID Code:35981
Deposited On:17 May 2019 08:45

Repository Staff Only: item control page