University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC)

The University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) was formed in 1999 as a not-for-profit representative and support organisation by the HE sector and is run by the HE sector for the HE sector. We provide an independent voice for our members on matters relating to technical and professional higher level learning including higher and degree apprenticeship. Our mission is to champion higher level vocational learning and exists to support Higher Education Institutions play a full role in the delivery of skills, apprenticeship, technical education and professional education provision.

UVAC has a membership of approximately 90, including universities of all types, sizes and mission groups, higher education institutions, awarding and professional bodies, tech ed businesses and individuals.

We believe in:

  • The importance of meeting the higher vocational learning needs of individuals and employers
  • The validity of work-based routes into practical, work-applied higher education – with no artificial barriers
  • The value of experiential and reflective learning
  • The value of work-based and work-related higher education learning

Our activities:

  • We work with our members and others to influence the quality and value of higher vocational learning
  • We research, provide information and organise events to support our aims
  • We support the recognition of prior learning and the national application of credit and transfer between educational institutions
  • We work with educational institutions, employers, governments and national agencies to enhance graduate employability and progression

The UVAC agenda is of greater significance to the HE sector than any time in the last twenty years for the following reasons:

- HE Admissions, Access and Participation - The development and prioritisation of T Levels and the reduction in and uncertain funding for Applied Generals (BTEC Nationals/Cambridge Technicals) means new challenges for HE admissions, access, participation and HE programme design. In 2018 around 20% of 18 year olds applying to university held at least one Applied General qualification.

- Higher Technical Qualifications - The Government intends to substantially increase the take-up and use of Higher Technical Qualifications (levels 4 and 5) through the IfATE quality mark process and, more significantly, through potential funding incentives and disincentives for other types of level 4 and level 5 provision.

- Apprenticeships - Higher and Degree Apprenticeships are here to stay. Government wants to increase take-up. There is also a very strong demand for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships from employers and individuals. HEIs engaged in this agenda do, however, face a multitude of challenges. Ofsted inspection of all provision including level 6 and level 7, ESFA compliance and audit (including (re) applications to the refreshed RoATP and RoEPAOs), delivering integrated Degree Apprenticeships and delivering inline with an Apprenticeship funding band.

- Workforce Development and CPD - With DfE planning to invest in supporting an extended apprenticeship workforce development programme in 2021, UVAC is working to ensure support is contextualised for and relevant to HE, and includes a proposal to research and identify the development needs of the HE workforce, as well as for FE.

- Lifelong Loan Entitlement – The Skills for Jobs White Paper outlined plans for a major transformation in further and higher education. In particular the introduction of a loan entitlement useable for modules at higher technical and degree level programmes provided in colleges and universities as well as for full time study. This could herald a far greater use of credit transfer between institutions (HE and FE) and more part-time study.

- Social Mobility, Diversity, Levelling-up, Productivity and the Delivery of Public Sector Services – Government will expect and HEIs will want to develop and deliver provision that enhances social mobility, tackles underrepresentation, encourages diversity, addresses levelling-up, increases productivity and supports the delivery of high-quality public sector services.

UVAC Member Services - UVAC has three principal activities; representation, research and sector support.

Representation and Advocacy – UVAC meets regularly with Ministers, ESFA, IfATE, Ofsted, OfS and QAA and is represented on key committees advising on skills, Apprenticeship and technical education policy and operational approaches. We work closely with UUK and university mission groups.

Research – UVAC’s peer reviewed journal, Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning is published six times per annum, achieved 28,000 downloads in 2020 and is available free, online, to all staff in a member institution. In the last 12 months UVAC has produced detailed reports on Apprenticeship funding, a post Covid 19 skills system and Higher and Degree Apprenticeship, social mobility, diversity and the levelling-up agenda. UVAC research informs our representation and advocacy activities and we created the Centre for Degree Apprenticeships (www.cda.uvac.ac.uk), a self-funded research and think-tank network, convened and managed by UVAC, as the first network designed to help higher education providers, leaders and practitioners develop and deliver high quality Degree Apprenticeships that enhance productivity and social mobility.

The University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) was formed in 1999 as a not-for-profit representative and support organisation by the HE sector and is run by the HE sector for the HE sector. We provide an independent voice for our members on matters relating to technical and professional higher level learning including higher and degree apprenticeship. Our mission is to champion higher level vocational learning and exists to support Higher Education Institutions play a full role in the delivery of skills, apprenticeship, technical education and professional education provision.

UVAC has a membership of approximately 90, including universities of all types, sizes and mission groups, higher education institutions, awarding and professional bodies, tech ed businesses and individuals.

We believe in:

  • The importance of meeting the higher vocational learning needs of individuals and employers
  • The validity of work-based routes into practical, work-applied higher education – with no artificial barriers
  • The value of experiential and reflective learning
  • The value of work-based and work-related higher education learning

Our activities:

  • We work with our members and others to influence the quality and value of higher vocational learning
  • We research, provide information and organise events to support our aims
  • We support the recognition of prior learning and the national application of credit and transfer between educational institutions
  • We work with educational institutions, employers, governments and national agencies to enhance graduate employability and progression

The UVAC agenda is of greater significance to the HE sector than any time in the last twenty years for the following reasons:

- HE Admissions, Access and Participation - The development and prioritisation of T Levels and the reduction in and uncertain funding for Applied Generals (BTEC Nationals/Cambridge Technicals) means new challenges for HE admissions, access, participation and HE programme design. In 2018 around 20% of 18 year olds applying to university held at least one Applied General qualification.

- Higher Technical Qualifications - The Government intends to substantially increase the take-up and use of Higher Technical Qualifications (levels 4 and 5) through the IfATE quality mark process and, more significantly, through potential funding incentives and disincentives for other types of level 4 and level 5 provision.

- Apprenticeships - Higher and Degree Apprenticeships are here to stay. Government wants to increase take-up. There is also a very strong demand for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships from employers and individuals. HEIs engaged in this agenda do, however, face a multitude of challenges. Ofsted inspection of all provision including level 6 and level 7, ESFA compliance and audit (including (re) applications to the refreshed RoATP and RoEPAOs), delivering integrated Degree Apprenticeships and delivering inline with an Apprenticeship funding band.

- Workforce Development and CPD - With DfE planning to invest in supporting an extended apprenticeship workforce development programme in 2021, UVAC is working to ensure support is contextualised for and relevant to HE, and includes a proposal to research and identify the development needs of the HE workforce, as well as for FE.

- Lifelong Loan Entitlement – The Skills for Jobs White Paper outlined plans for a major transformation in further and higher education. In particular the introduction of a loan entitlement useable for modules at higher technical and degree level programmes provided in colleges and universities as well as for full time study. This could herald a far greater use of credit transfer between institutions (HE and FE) and more part-time study.

- Social Mobility, Diversity, Levelling-up, Productivity and the Delivery of Public Sector Services – Government will expect and HEIs will want to develop and deliver provision that enhances social mobility, tackles underrepresentation, encourages diversity, addresses levelling-up, increases productivity and supports the delivery of high-quality public sector services.

UVAC Member Services - UVAC has three principal activities; representation, research and sector support.

Representation and Advocacy – UVAC meets regularly with Ministers, ESFA, IfATE, Ofsted, OfS and QAA and is represented on key committees advising on skills, Apprenticeship and technical education policy and operational approaches. We work closely with UUK and university mission groups.

Research – UVAC’s peer reviewed journal, Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning is published six times per annum, achieved 28,000 downloads in 2020 and is available free, online, to all staff in a member institution. In the last 12 months UVAC has produced detailed reports on Apprenticeship funding, a post Covid 19 skills system and Higher and Degree Apprenticeship, social mobility, diversity and the levelling-up agenda. UVAC research informs our representation and advocacy activities and we created the Centre for Degree Apprenticeships (www.cda.uvac.ac.uk), a self-funded research and think-tank network, convened and managed by UVAC, as the first network designed to help higher education providers, leaders and practitioners develop and deliver high quality Degree Apprenticeships that enhance productivity and social mobility.

Events