The Department for Education (DfE) describe Applied General qualifications as follows:
Applied General qualifications are rigorous, advanced (Level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied General qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at Level 3 such as A levels. Higher education institutions, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.
UAL Level 3 Diplomas and Extended Diplomas are qualifications which have been designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to access and progress to higher levels of study and employment in the creative sectors: art and design, creative and media production, and the performing and production arts.
Individual units are graded: Pass, Merit, Distinction.
The Diploma and Extended Diploma are graded overall: Pass, Merit, Distinction.
All units for these qualifications are internally assessed. They do not currently include any externally-assessed units.
Students are set assignments/projects which may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, problem solving exercises, and/or research investigations. Where possible they are contextualised using realistic, work-related scenarios and may be provided by local employers.
All assessments are criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit within a qualification has specified assessment criteria.
Assessment and grading are subject to internal and external moderation.
Providers wishing to deliver UAL qualifications require approval from the awarding organisation.
Applied General qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.
Applicants holding interim-reformed Applied General qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
The popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for applicants holding at least one BTEC (either alone or in combination with A levels) was 6.0 per cent in 2016, up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.
There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Applied General qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:
- The fully-reformed and interim-reformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
- The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
- These qualifications are fundamentally different to the fully-reformed versions and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.