Can my child go to university without A levels? Your T Levels questions answered
Last updated Dec 11, 2023
Current T Level subjects include Health, Business, Engineering, Childcare and Digital & IT.

This story is sponsored by Harrogate College.

What does the term ‘T Levels’ mean to you? Work experience? A government initiative? Gobbledygook? If it’s the latter, you’re not alone. Even though most parents and carers of teenagers will have heard about T Levels, many will struggle to tell you what this technical qualification is about. 

In this article, we get down to basics by answering the most common questions people ask about T Levels.

What is a T Level?

A T Level is a technical qualification that is the equivalent level as an A level. One T Level is the same size as three A levels due to the breadth and depth of learning it offers students in a specific area. A single T Level also provides the same amount of UCAS points as three A levels, providing students with another post-16 pathway to university.

T Levels vs A levels, which is better?

Neither. T Levels and A levels are both valid choices for post-GCSE study, they both require the same level of academic acumen. The crucial difference is that T Levels have a technical focus and include a work placement, whilst A levels are theoretical. 

Whether studying a T Level is right for your child will depend on whether they want to focus on a specific subject in depth, or study a broader range of subject areas.

Can you progress to university with a T Level?

Yes, just like A levels, T Levels were designed as a route to higher education. The key thing to remember is that a single T Level provides the same amount of UCAS points as three A levels. This means that anyone who prefers to study a more hands-on course will still walk away with the right amount of points needed for entry to university. 

Okay, so which universities accept T Levels?

You can find out which universities accept T Levels by checking the entry requirements on their website. Many universities now offer T Level applicants equal consideration on degree applications, including Russell Group institutions like  the University of York, University of Warwick and King’s College London. 

However, due to its technical nature, you may find that a university might accept a T Level as an entry qualification for one degree, but not another. For example, a student could apply for an undergraduate degree in environmental science, but not mathematics. Fortunately, colleges can advise your child further based on their chosen progression route.

How many subjects do you study on a T Level?

Students study one subject on a T Level. Although studying multiple subjects is helpful for those who are still making up their minds about the future, if your child already knows what they’d like to pursue, a T Level will allow them to specialise sooner.

This was the case for Claire, a student in one of Harrogate College’s 2022 cohorts. “When my tutor told me about the T Level in Digital and IT, I knew it would be perfect as tech has always been my passion. The T Level helped to expand my horizons as there were many aspects of IT I wasn’t aware of.”

Like Claire, being able to focus on and explore different aspects of a subject in detail can help 16 to 18 year olds to feel one step closer to their end goal, providing them with a headstart when it comes to building employability skills for their desired career or job role.

What subjects can you study on a T Level?

There are now 20 T Level subjects in total, but the subjects colleges choose to deliver depends on a couple of factors. The first is the local and regional industry demand for that subject, as well as the amount of tutors and employers available for the necessary teaching and work experience elements. 

What are the T Levels at Harrogate College?

We offer students a choice of T Levels in Business, Engineering, Education and Childcare, Health, or Digital and IT. Students who successfully complete a T Level at Harrogate College will receive a nationally recognised qualification that readies them for higher education or employment. 

Why does a T Level have a work experience element?

To provide students with real-world skills. Take a T Level in Childcare, for example. A T Level Education and Childcare student will spend the academic year familiarising themselves with the fundamentals of the sector – child development, safeguarding, behavioural management and so on. They will also spend one day a week, for 45 weeks, putting what they’ve learnt into practice on a compulsory work experience placement, usually in a nursery or early years setting. This combination of practical and theoretical teaching equips learners with hands-on skills and knowledge they can build upon, which is the hallmark of technical education. 

Will T Levels eventually be scrapped because of the new Advanced British Standard?

No, the government’s recent announcement about a major reform of post-16 qualifications in England will see both T Levels and A levels merge into a single, new qualification. The hope is it will enable students to study a mix of technical and academic qualifications, providing better flexibility for future choices.

Are T Levels the same as BTECs?

T Levels and BTECs are two different qualifications. In fact, some might argue that the BTEC qualification is the predecessor of a T Level. 2024 will see thirty-eight BTECs discontinued where these subjects are now taught as T Levels.

The plus side is that T Levels feature a longer work experience period than BTECs (just over six weeks compared to the usual two to three weeks), allowing students more time to gain an insight into the working world.

What happens during a T Level work placement?

During their work experience, a student will be given tasks relating to technical areas in which they need to build experience. T Level work placements are hosted by employers, who will be made aware of each student’s objectives. This is so that they can ensure the student has access to the right type of work needed for each technical area.

I’m an employer, how can I host a T Level placement?

Students are assigned a designated employer by our Employee Engagement Officer. We contact all employers we work with during the spring term of each academic year. If being a T Level work experience host is something you would like to be considered for, please contact [email protected] to express your interest.