Press release

Now is the time to turbocharge technical education, says MillionPlus

02 Mar 2020

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, is today (2 March) calling on the government to turbocharge technical education, as it publishes its latest research report.

Levelling up: investing in higher technical education at universities in England explores the depth of provision of level 4 and 5 higher technical education, that equips people all over the country with skills keenly sought by employers.

The report includes a number of recommendations that would help boost the number of students and the esteem in which higher technical qualifications are held, including: introducing maintenance grants for all learners undertaking level 4 and 5 qualifications; encouraging all providers of level 4 and 5 education to register with the Office for Students to enable better loan access; and support for collaboration between universities and further education colleges delivering higher technical education.

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Chair of MillionPlus and Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, said:

“As the effects on the labour market of AI, automation and the fourth industrial revolution continue to grow, there are rightly calls for increased work-focused and employer-led education. A great breadth of such provision does exist already in modern universities, but this delivery in every corner of England is too often unheralded.

“Working with employers on curriculum design, placements, apprenticeships and course delivery, modern universities deliver higher education that is both vocational and academic. They equip students with not just hands-on skills but also the underpinning knowledge needed to change career should they wish to in later life.

“The new government should commit to enabling greater diversity of workplace-focused provision and ensure it is flexible and accessible enough for students at any stage of their working life. We hope to work with the new team of ministers to achieve that goal.”

The report recommends that the UK government in England should:

  1. Introduce full maintenance grant support for all learners (including part-time and mature students) undertaking level 4 and 5 qualifications at registered providers to increase the take up of work-focused higher education
  2. Encourage all providers of level 4 and 5 education to be registered with the Office for Students to guarantee that students receive a high-quality education experience and financial support during their studies.
  3. Recognise that colleges and universities are both key players in the provision of higher technical education and support collaboration between them to promote skills and qualifications.
  4. Improve and increase the data available on level 4 and 5 qualifications to enable a better understanding of the nature and scope of technical education at both colleges and universities
  5. Ensure that all level 3 qualifications are designed to enable progression to further education opportunities, whether immediately or at a later point in a learner’s life.
  6. Provide adequate financial support to students undertaking qualifications at level 3 to remove barriers to study.


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email
  2. Levelling up: investing in higher technical education at universities in England is attached to this email and available online here
  3. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  4. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  5. Modern universities: facts and stats

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