Pearson BTEC International Level 3 and applying via UCAS to UK universities | Pearson qualifications

Pearson BTEC International Level 3 and applying via UCAS to UK universities

2 March 2020

We’d like to give some clarity on QIPs and equivalency for students applying to university who will be studying a Pearson BTEC International Level 3 qualification. Key points covered below:

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UCAS Qualification Information Profiles (QIPs)

Higher Education providers make use of Qualification Information Profiles (QIPs), provided by UCAS, to inform their admissions decisions. QIPs provide objective, equivalent information about qualifications.

They rely on a common format to provide a detailed overview of qualifications, enabling HE admissions staff to compare less-familiar qualifications and programmes with ones that are more familiar. They include a range of information, such as size, grading, assessment, structure and content, and are updated on an annual basis. They can be found on the UCAS website.

The QIPs are divided into certain categories. Pearson qualifications are found in the categories UK QIPs and Global QIPs.

Global QIPs

This section includes qualifications which are developed by UK awarding organisations solely for use in the global market. The Global QIPs include International A levels, International AS levels, and International GCSEs from all awarding organisations.  The QIP for the Pearson BTEC International Level 3 suite of qualifications has also been placed in this category by UCAS. 

UCAS has a policy of not including these global qualifications on the UCAS Tariff. However, they play a significant part in UK Higher Education admissions.

Official comparison of International and UK qualifications

UK NARIC is the designated United Kingdom national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills. It performs this official function on behalf of the UK Government.NARIC has produced reports on our international portfolio - including the Pearson BTEC International Level 3 qualifications - confirming that the UK and International qualification suites are equivalent.

How does this affect learners applying to universities that ask for tariff points?

While Pearson BTEC International Level 3 qualifications will themselves not attract UCAS tariff points (in the same way that International A levels do not), universities will use the QIPs to draw direct comparisons to, and use as proxies for, UK equivalent qualifications which do have tariff points.

As UK and International BTEC qualifications have the same grading scale, universities can easily align grades, i.e. a Pass in BTEC Nationals  (RQF) is equivalent to a Pass in BTEC International, and thus inferences on tariff points achieved will be made by the university. This is well used across qualifications by universities, as many international students apply to UK institutions. 

How this affects learners studying the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP)

Pearson BTEC Nationals, and the UCAS Tariff points they attract, form an integral part of the tariff-point-scored IB curriculum. In the same way as BTEC National UK Tariff points can be used as a proxy for Pearson BTEC International Level 3 qualifications, BTEC National Tariff points can be used as a proxy when using Pearson BTEC International Level 3 qualifications for the CP part of the IB.

Are universities aware of the Pearson BTEC International Level 3 qualifications?

All UK higher education institutions are aware of, and use QIPs as a matter of course. Those that accept BTEC UK versions (RQF) can use this to confirm the tariff-point equivalence of Pearson BTEC International Level 3.

We understand that students apply to institutions across the world, and we are engaging in a programme of updating universities about the changes to BTEC International qualifications. We are also drawing their attention to the NARIC report, which ensures their equivalence to UK versions.
Please note that students can apply to universities with Pearson BTEC International Level 3 using the UCAS portal.


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