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DfE post-16 funding announcement

Artwork by Kez Dearmer, Chelsea College of Art. Copyright Alys Tomlinson.
Written by
UAL Awarding Body
Published date
24 July 2019

Department for Education (DfE) have announced that 163 Level 3 qualifications from across the sector will no longer receive funding from August 2020. Two UAL Awarding Body qualifications are affected by this decision.

This defunding is part of a government initiative to reduce the number of publicly funded qualifications available to centres and learners.

We were not given sufficient notice by DfE of this decision to communicate with our centres prior to the announcement. The following information is designed to reassure you and explain how you may be affected. We are committed to supporting all of you in this period of change in a completely transparent and responsive manner.

Pearson / BTEC, OCR, City and Guilds and other awarding organisations are also affected by this defunding, affecting many qualifications. We recommend that centres review the list of all affected qualifications (across all subject areas) and plan accordingly.

UAL Awarding Body statement: DfE Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England (PDF 148KB).

Please note that all of what follows affects only our Level 3 qualifications in Art and Design and this only affects centres in England. None of our other qualifications are affected. Centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not affected.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss these developments in more detail please contact us at

Frequently asked questions

Which UAL Awarding Body qualifications are affected?

The following two UAL Awarding Body qualifications will cease to attract funding for new registrations from August 2020:

QAN: 60028270 / UAL Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design (externally moderated)
QAN: 60028269 / UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design (externally moderated)

Does this review affect Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

No, the review covers England only.

Which UAL Awarding Body qualifications are unaffected?

All of UAL Awarding Body’s Level 1 and 2 qualifications are currently unaffected and will be funded until at least 2023.

The below UAL Awarding Body Level 3 qualifications are also currently unaffected and funding is secure until at least 2023:

Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art and Design (externally assessed)
Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology
Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Fashion Business and Retail
Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Music Performance and Production
Level 3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts
Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design - Foundation Studies 

When will funding cease for the pre-existing Level 3 Art and Design Diploma and Extended Diploma qualifications?

Funding for these qualifications is secure for 2019 starts. Funding will cease from August 2020.

Students registering on the Extended Diploma before August 2020 will be funded to completion of their qualification in 2021.

What should we do to ensure that we are funded for registrations in Autumn 2019?

We strongly recommend that you register all students on their ultimate target qualification to ensure full funding for up to two years.

If you have students starting Autumn 2019 that intend to complete an Extended Diploma in Summer 2021 please register them on the QAN: 60028269 / UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design at the outset rather than attempting to top-up later.

Similarly, students whose target qualification is not yet decided should be registered on the two-year QAN: 60028269 / UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design at the outset. This is because Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) intend to announce a mechanism for “stepping down’ to a nested qualification in coming weeks. This means you will be able to accommodate students who may exit with a Diploma in Summer 2020 or may continue to an Extended Diploma completing in Summer 2021.

What are our options post de-funding in August 2020?

The UAL Awarding Body Level 3 Art and Design qualifications that will continue to attract funding for new registrations beyond August 2020 are:

QAN: 60314576 / UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art and Design (externally assessed)
QAN: 6031459X / UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art and Design(externally assessed)

These qualifications were designed with the same ethos, level of challenge and commitment to the creative process as has always driven our work. They allow for the exploratory, diagnostic and developmental approach we know is integral to successful creative practices. We anticipate migrating all centres to these Performance Table qualifications by Autumn 2020.

What about learners who do not complete the Extended Diploma?

DfE and ESFA intend to implement a "step-down" facility as described to us in a letter sent on 22 July (see excerpt below). This should allow for those students who leave with the Diploma only. We anticipate that DfE and ESFA will communicate further guidance to centres in the coming weeks, however, we would encourage centres to follow up with them directly for updates on this matter.

DfE advice on “nested” pre-existing qualifications as at 22 July 2019:

“During the first stage of the consultation on the review, we were notified about a potential difficulty with suites of qualifications in which smaller qualifications are “nested” within larger qualifications. Under this “nested” model, students can enrol on the smaller qualification, then top-up to a larger qualification within the suite in their second year of study. This would mean that for pre-existing qualifications, a student would no longer be able to transfer in their second year because funding approval would, by that stage, have been removed from the larger qualification.

Rather than ‘topping up’ the small nested qualification with the larger qualification, the ESFA will be putting in place the facility to support those students who wish to, to ‘step down’ from the larger qualification to the smaller qualification. This should then allow providers to start those students who may wish to undertake the larger qualification but are unsure if they can manage this, to enrol on the larger qualification from the start, but with the reassurance that they can step down and achieve the smaller qualification if they wish to.

Whilst we understand that awarding organisations with “nested” qualifications affected by withdrawal of funding approval may wish to discuss this forthcoming process with centres, we are asking that they await the operational guidance from ESFA (due to be issued in August) before putting any related communications and/or guidance in place. This will avoid any confusion over its operation.”

Can my centre move over to the UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art and Design?

We are recommending that centres register students on the below pre-existing qualifications this Autumn 2019.

QAN: 60028270 / UAL Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design (externally moderated)
QAN: 60028269 / UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design (externally moderated)

This is because our approvals process, which we must adhere to for quality assurance and regulatory reasons, is now closed. It is also because we are evaluating and improving the assessment process and administrative requirements of these newer qualifications, following the first complete delivery cycle and feedback from early deliverers. This will ensure that all centres migrating to the externally assessed qualification in 2020 will benefit from our process enhancements.

If your centre has a high level of interest in delivering our externally assessed Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art and Design please contact our approvals team so that they can this discuss with you when our approvals window opens again in October 2019.

What else can I do?

We would encourage all of our centres to raise the considerable educational, funding and administrative impacts of these decisions directly with DfE and ESFA.

Our track-record, verified by analysis from Ofqual, shows we have maintained very stable grading standards year-on-year and have no statistically significant grade inflation. 91.58% of students completing our pre-existing Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design receive at least one UCAS offer. 86.96% of applicants take up a place at a HE institution – often at prestigious specialist providers. We believe it is a mistake to ignore the value of these qualifications to learners. It is also unfortunate that funding changes are being imposed in a way that does not allow centres to plan effectively.

We are determined to safeguard this track-record and have ensured that our newer Level 3 Applied General Art and Design qualifications are designed to be closely aligned with the creative sector, deliver comparable success rates and progression rates, and the best educational experiences for students.

UAL Awarding Body hope that this information provides sufficient context and a clear picture of the situation. Please do get in touch with us if anything is unclear or you need further guidance.

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