Removal of funding for pre-existing level 3 qualifications from August 2020

Find out about the outcomes of the DfE review into post-16 qualifications in England.

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Last updated Friday 16 August 2019

We are proud of the important contribution that BTECs make to the high-quality career-focused education market to help learners in the UK make progress each year into employment, further and higher education. We fully support the move to reform qualifications to ensure consistently better standards and progression across all pathways.

Responding to the needs of employers, learners, parents, and the wider economy, we have developed new and reformed BTECs over the last three years in partnership with educators and employers which are highly valued. These qualifications provide a career focussed pathway which responds to the increased demand for flexible, transferable learning, including the application of technical skills and knowledge.

Qualifications being removed from funding from 1st August 2020 in England only

On the 22nd July, the DfE announced it would be removing funding approval from older, pre-existing qualifications from 1st August 2020, where an equivalent redeveloped qualification has been developed by the same awarding organisation for inclusion in 2020 performance tables.

This removal of funding was announced as part of the first stage of the DfE’s wider review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below.

This announcement ONLY affects those QCF BTEC Level 3 National qualifications (Applied Generals and Tech Levels) where RQF versions have been developed, and which meet certain criteria.

The list of the QCF BTEC Level 3 Applied General and Tech Level qualifications that will no longer be funded after 1st August 2020, can be found here.

Students enrolled on these qualifications in September 2019 on a two-year course will be funded through to completion. 

The transfer process for pre-existing qualifications for students who begin a large qualification and who want to transfer to a smaller qualification

Many students taking BTEC qualifications start and achieve a smaller qualification in the suite in their first year, and then top up to a larger qualification in the following year.

From 1 August 2020, any student who started a smaller pre-existing qualification in the 2019 to 2020 funding year will not be able to progress to the larger pre-existing qualification in 2020 to 2021, and still be funded. This is because the ESFA will remove funding from the pre-existing qualifications from 1 August 2020.

In order to ensure students are not disadvantaged, the ESFA has put in place a transfer process for these nested pre-existing qualifications. 

Students can instead start on the larger qualification in the 2019 to 2020 funding year and if they choose not to progress to the second year, they can be transferred to the smaller qualification in the same suite. Students will need to meet all the assessment requirements for the smaller qualification, and have achieved it in the first year.

Please see our guidance on this process including the full technical guidance from the ESFA. You must complete all student transfers by 18:00 on 22 October 2020 at the very latest. The ESFA has confirmed that transferring a student to the smaller qualification will not affect your qualification achievement rates (QAR), or the ESFA audit of your organisation, as long as you follow the steps outlined in their guidance. 


Qualifications still being funded from 1st August 2020 in England

Many QCF BTEC Level 3 National qualifications continue to be funded and you can find the list here.

The RQF BTEC Level 3 Nationals are funded and they can be found here. We do not expect any changes to the funding approval of these qualifications before September 2023, in line with the full roll-out of T Levels.

Supporting centres to transition to new reformed qualifications

To support you in making the transition from our QCF to RQF qualifications, we have a wide range of support available. This includes a range of free and paid-for published teaching and learning resources. Our free resources include Authorised Assignment Briefs (AABs), Sample Marked Learner Work (SMLW), Delivery Guides and Schemes of Work.

In addition to teaching and learning resources, we also make available different types of training events, including Getting Ready to Teach. These events are free, full-day events specifically designed to walk you through the delivery of the RQF BTEC Nationals courses, explaining all the support available to you, and allowing you to network with your peers as you plan the implementation of your new courses. We also offer online versions that cover the important material you need to deliver the RQF BTEC Nationals qualifications.

Please visit our qualifications webpages to find out more


This funding announcement applies to England ONLY and does not impact other nations. 

No, it depends on whether the individual Awarding Organisation (AO) has reformed (RQF) qualifications available to teach that are identified as pre-existing qualifications (same name, size, sector SSA2 and of the same type: Applied General or Tech Level).

Yes. You can enrol and register eligible students on larger pre-existing qualifications this September and they will be funded for the duration of their learning programme on this qualification (up to the certification end date for each qualification of study, as per the funding rules). 

In addition, guidance is now available on the process in place for pre-existing qualifications for students who begin a larger qualification and who want to transfer to a smaller qualification. The transfer model only applies if your students choose not to progress to the second year of the larger qualification. 

RQF BTEC Level 3 Nationals will continue to be funded until at least September 2023 when T Levels are due to be fully rolled out. However, we are confident that BTEC qualifications will continue to be available to students alongside A levels, and after the roll-out of T Levels.

Yes, for example Public Services, and some Land qualifications only have QCF versions.  They are not classified as pre-existing qualifications and therefore you may continue to teach them.

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