1. Purpose of the approvals process

The purpose of the approvals process is to ensure that our approvals criteria have been met and to demonstrate that Higher Technical Qualifications approved by the Institute meet employer needs and lead to learners becoming employable in occupations relevant to the qualifications they undertake and complete.

As with the approval of apprenticeships and T Levels, employers will play a central role in providing insight and expertise through external consultation, a decision-making role as part of route panels and through peer reviews when deemed appropriate.

2. Employer-led approach

Employers are at the centre of the Institute’s work on technical education through four broad stages for development outlined below.

Draft

  • applicants align their qualifications to employer designed occupational standards, verifying with specific employer evidence that outcomes will be attained.

Consult

  • public consultation on submissions to obtain the input of a wider group of employers, learners and providers.
  • submissions may be shared with relevant peer reviewers, experts in the specific occupation.

Approve

  • recommendations are provided to the employer route panels and the Approvals & Funding Committee on whether our criteria are met.
  • a final decision is made by Institute’s Chief Executive.

To obtain the widest possible input from employers, we intend to consult publicly for 4 weeks on applications for approval. The responses to the consultation form part of the Institute’s approval recommendation to route panels, the Approvals & Funding Committee and the Institute’s CEO. Some aspects of consultation responses may be included in feedback to applicants.

We recognise that you may consider some information you provide in your application to be confidential and/or commercially sensitive, and therefore not appropriate for public consultation. We ask you to flag documents you consider confidential and/or commercially sensitive in the application form. We may contact you to discuss these details, with a view to ensuring that any public consultation is fair to all applicants and meaningful to participants.

We will also commission comments from our peer reviewers, for applications shared for review. Peer reviewers are occupational experts contracted by the Institute and are bound by obligations of confidentiality. 

3. Roles in the approvals process

Applicants 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 throughout the approvals process.

Institute officials review qualifications against Institute’s approvals criteria based on the evidence provided. They liaise with applicants to clarify issues and seek further information where necessary. They also prepare documents for route panels, the Approvals & Funding Committee, and the Institute’s CEO, and make recommendations about whether qualifications have met the Institute’s criteria. 

Ofqual or Office for Students confirm recognition and registration requirements and provide advice to the Institute on the qualifications or organisations they regulate.

Peer reviewers are occupational experts, they may be asked by the Institute to provide specific employer insight on technical education. Evidence obtained is included in the advice to route panels.

The employer route panel provides the employer voice in the approvals process and ensures qualifications 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 Institute’s Chief Executive Officer makes final approval decisions, taking into account the recommendations and views of Institute officials, peer reviewers, route panels and the Approvals & Funding Committee.

4. Applicant customer journey

Pre-window

  • attend Institute’s introductory and support webinars
  • review Institute guidance
  • book and attend individual support session with Institute officials who can provide early feedback
  • discuss specific questions and qualifications with Institute
  • identify qualifications for submission, prepare application
  • populate KSB mapping template
  • gather evidence from employers

Application window 

  • fill in the application form using Institute guidance
  • refer questions to Institute 
  • agree to terms and conditions for approval
  • Institute confirms receipt and feedback timeline

Review and consultation

  • feedback on the application process
  • Institute officials review and evaluate applications
  • Institute may share applications with peer reviewers to obtain expert advice
  • Institute officials review advice from OfS and Ofqual
  • Ofqual meetings with relevant awarding organisations 
  • Institute may seek further information

Decision and feedback

  • Institute provides feedback and timeline for future action
  • feedback on health of application

Refinement

  • make any required changes to qualifications and resubmit

Decision and final list of approved qualifications published

  • reconfirm acceptance of terms and conditions for approval
  • Institute requests feedback on the process
  • preparation for teaching begins

5. Rollout of routes

For the first four cycles of the approvals process the Institute will gradually add routes to the approvals process. The first cycle covered the digital route, and the second cycle will cover digital, construction, health & science.

Cycle 3 will launch in 2022, for first teaching from 2024 and cover standards in

  • Business & Administration;
  • Education & Childcare;
  • Engineering & Manufacturing; and
  • Legal, Finance & Accounting,

Cycle 4 will launch in 2023 for first teaching from 2025.

  • Agriculture, Environmental & Animal Care;
  • Catering & Hospitality;
  • Creative & Design; and
  • Hair & Beauty,

There will be annual opportunities to submit new and existing qualifications for approval, once the relevant route has been launched.

Timelines for cycles 3 and 4 will be communicated in due course.

6. Procedural review

If you are unhappy with the final decision made in connection with your application for approval you may be able to challenge the Institute’s decision by way of Procedural Review.

Procedural Review is an opportunity to challenge the Institute’s decision if you feel that the published process has not been followed or if you think there has been a material error made by the Institute during the process. Procedural Review is not an avenue to challenge a decision of the Institute simply because you do not agree with it.

Time frames for submitting a Procedural Review request and details of the ground which must be met for a Procedural Review to be granted can be found in our guidance.