Skip to content

Navigation breadcrumbs

  1. Home
  2. News
News18th October 2021

Research confirms BTECs as a viable route to competitive universities 

Leading researcher Dr Susan McGrath and Sarah Taunton, Head of Programme for Professional Pathways at Ark, shared key findings and recommendations from a three-year research project evaluating Ark’s post-16 vocational programme at today’s launch event.

Fulfilling the potential of BTEC learners: the Ark Professional Pathways programme’ includes qualitative and quantitative research involving more than 700 Ark students to assess the success of the Professional Pathway programme. 

The course includes a bespoke wrap-around curriculum covering work readiness, essential skills, and careers advice to support and encourage aspirational post-18 choices. The research spanned the transition from the sixth form to graduation and included the experiences of students whose journeys have been shaped by Covid-19.  

Dr Susan McGrath said: “Unlike the linear, exam-based assessment of GCSE and A levels, many universities use a wide range of assessment techniques designed to equip graduates with the skills and competencies needed by employers. So BTEC, with its mix of teamwork, presentations, projects and exams, offers excellent preparation for university or employment but is often seen as ‘second best’ to A levels. This research shows how the Professional Pathways programme creates BTEC learners with the same high aspirations and outcomes as their A level peers.” 

Sarah said: “This research shows that BTECs, as part of a strong package of support and guidance, are a proven route for many young people to access and succeed at university. Ark hopes the government will continue to fund large BTECs alongside T Levels.” 

Ark would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Commercial Education Trust, the Eureka Charitable Trust and the UPP Foundation, who provided funding to support this research, and the corporate and university partners who helped us deliver the Professional Pathways programme.

Watch a recording of the launch event here: