Are BTECs as good as A-Levels?
Safeera Sarjoo

Are BTECs as good as A-Levels?

The uptake of BTEC qualifications is on the rise - so how do they stack up against A-Levels?

First published date September 18 2017 Amended date September 18 2017

For a lot of people, A-Levels are seen as the best way to get into university. This often means that other notable qualifications, like BTECs, gets forgotten.

BTEC qualifications have long been regarded as inferior to A-Levels, perhaps because of their differing structure that deviates away from sitting formal exams. Instead, BTEC courses are often assessed through coursework and practical work. As different as it may be, the practical element of a BTEC could just be exactly what sets you apart from other students taking A-Levels.

Are BTEC qualifications recognised?

According to recent research from the Social Market Foundation, the number of students entering university with a BTEC qualification now stands at 100,000 – a 50% increase from 2008.

The new BTECs, which were introduced in 2016, gives students the skills they need to move into higher education or straight into employment. BTEC Nationals are widely recognised with approximately 95% of UK universities and colleges accepting students with a BTEC qualification – this includes Russell Group universities too.

There are a number of different BTEC courses you can take:

  • BTEC Firsts are equivalent to GCSEs where learners are likely to be in the 14-19 age range. However, it isn’t uncommon for students of other ages to study for these qualifications if they’re looking to learn about a specific vocational sector. These BTECs are divided into both mandatory units as well as optional specialist areas. They’re a great introduction to a particular industry and according to Pearson, ‘a successful BTEC First learner demonstrates the high standards of knowledge, practical skills and understanding required for further study and employment.’
  • BTEC Nationals are equivalent to A-Levels and are seen as a recognised qualification to get students into university. Within the working world, it is regarded as a leading applied learning qualification, giving students enough practical experience to step into employment with ease and essential knowledge. BTEC National subjects range from agriculture to countryside management, health and social care and even performing arts
  • BTEC Higher Nationals are the equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree and stands as a more affordable option for students who are usually in smaller groups. It is regarded as a technical higher education qualification. They are designed with input from the industry, employers and professional bodies and it is this that makes them recognised within various sectors.


What BTEC courses are there?

The number of subjects you can take a BTEC course in is vast and wide. As the qualification itself has shifted from being inferior to A-Levels to one that is recognised by Russell Group universities, the number of subjects that you can now take a BTEC in has grown.

From environmental subjects like Agriculture, Horticulture and Countryside Management to creative subjects like Art and Design, Creative Digital Media Production and Performing Arts, BTECs are available in a wide range of areas that can prepare you for further study and employment.

Are BTECs as good as A Levels?

In a nutshell, yes. BTECs have been designed to not only reflect a curriculum that is relevant to today’s market but still gives students a qualitative education. The structure of these qualifications also makes it an engaging option for adult learners who are thinking of going back into education either for a career change or to simply further their knowledge in order for progression.


Search for a BTEC course near you now on Hotcourses!


Safeera Sarjoo

Safeera is Editor of Hotcourses and a journalist from Kingston University. Always the inquisitive, her writing spans across a number of areas such as sustainability, fashion, lifestyle and now education. Her belief that you never stop learning and passionate nature has taken her to New York City as part of her degree and across the airwaves on national radio talking about the issues that matter to her.