The purpose of the approvals process is to demonstrate that higher technical qualifications approved by the Institute meet employer needs.
As with the approval of apprenticeships and T Levels, employers will play a central role in providing insight and expertise through external consultation and peer review as well as a decision-making role as part of the route panels. We use this expertise to ensure that approved qualifications will provide learners with the skills they need.
The Institute currently delivers employer-led approval processes for apprenticeship standards and T Levels. Employers are at the centre of the Institute’s work on technical education through four broad stages for development. We have replicated this for higher technical qualifications as set out below.
The approval of higher technical qualifications will follow the same stages to ensure consistency with other technical education products (apprenticeships and T Levels), reinforcing their alignment to the same occupational standards.
In line with our current approach to apprenticeships and T Levels, we intend to consult publicly for 4 weeks on submissions for approval to obtain the widest possible input from employers. The outputs from the consultation will form one part of the approvals advice to route panels and the Institute’s board and some aspects may be included in feedback to awarding bodies.
We recognise that some elements of the evidence you provide in the approvals process will be commercially sensitive, and in the application form, we will specifically seek your advice on what can be used for the consultation. We will not publish any evidence which awarding bodies have raised concerns about. We will evaluate the use of public consultations at the end of the first approvals on the digital route to consider whether this should continue for other routes.
We will also commission comments on submissions from our peer reviewers. Peer reviewers are occupational experts contracted by the Institute and are contractually bound to confidentiality.
Awarding bodies submit qualifications for approval ensuring submissions meet the Institute’s criteria and are supported by appropriate evidence. They work with the Institute to address any feedback from the approvals process.
Institute officials review qualifications against Institute’s approvals criteria based on the evidence provided. Preparing documents for employer review and advising whether qualifications have met the Institute’s criteria.
Ofqual or Office for Students provides advice to the Institute on the qualifications they regulate.
Peer reviewers are occupational experts asked to provide specific employer insight on technical education. Evidence is included in advice to route panels.
The employer route panel provides the employer voice in the approvals process and ensures qualifications to meet employer needs. Route panels review the evidence provided and ensure that the application of the Institute’s criteria takes into account employer insight. Makes recommendations to the Approvals & Funding Committee.
The Approvals & Funding Committee (a subcommittee of Institute’s Board responsible for technical education approval and apprenticeship funding) provide an assurance role, ensuring that Institute officials and route panels have applied approvals criteria correctly.
The application window for approvals on the digital route will open at midday on 23 September and close on 16 December at 5pm.
We expect most awarding bodies will submit qualifications for approval towards the end of the application window and receive feedback in the new year. However, if we receive early applications from awarding bodies we will contact you and discuss an alternative timeline on a case-by-case basis.
Further detail on the timeline will be provided once the window for submissions has closed. We will keep you continually updated throughout the process.
We will publish details of our updated procedural review guidance shortly, which will take into account higher technical qualifications.