TIGA, the trade association representing the video games industry, has today published its latest education update.
TIGA’s update covers the latest announcements and developments concerning education in parliament, including the publication of a report calling for a pause of the post-16 education shake-up and the announcement of a £165 million fund to transform local skills.
Written Answers and Statements:
Teachers: Work Experience
Department for Education
24 April 2023
Deidre Brock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the article by the Independent Game Developers’ Association entitled TIGA Launches Proposal for an Industrial Secondment Programme, published on 25 January 2023, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing an industrial secondment scheme for video games lecturers.
Robert Halfon: The government is committed to supporting the growth of the UK’s video games sector which brings economic, cultural and social benefits across the UK.
Through the Strategic Priorities Grant, the department is providing funding on an annual basis to support teaching and students in higher education, including expensive to deliver subjects, such as computer game and computer game design degrees, in addition to science and engineering more widely. The department is investing an additional £750 million over the three-year period from 2022/23 to 2024/25 to support high quality teaching and facilities, including in science and engineering. This includes £450 million in capital funding to invest in teaching and learning facilities.
We are also increasing the level of overall investment in the further education (FE) and skills sector, worth £3.8 billion over the course of this parliament.
It is important that lecturers enhance their teaching skills and keep their practical knowledge of game development current. The Skills for Jobs White Paper introduces a ‘Workforce Industry Exchange’ policy commitment to ensure that FE teachers have the relevant industry experience to make sure that young people are being taught the skills that employers need. This will help support the sector by encouraging collaboration with industry staff teaching FE provision and upskilling existing teachers with relevant industry skills. This will allow staff to continuously develop their professionalism and insight and ensure that FE is able to adapt to the needs of a changing economy.
To facilitate this we are working with business leaders to develop resources supporting knowledge exchange and detailing how employers can get involved in FE learning. We are keen to create a pipeline of talented individuals from industry who can teach the next generation in FE and to support industry to upskill existing teachers in the latest practices and innovations in their sector.
Video Games: Higher Education
Department for Education
29 March 2023
Matt Western: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an estimate of the number of Universities that offer video games degree courses in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and d) Northern Ireland.
Robert Halfon: The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects and publishes statistics on higher education (HE) at UK Higher Education Providers (HEPs). Latest statistics refer to the 2021/22 academic year.
Table 49 of HESA’s Student Data resources shows the number of HE student enrolments by HE provider and subject of study and can be found at: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students/table-49(opens in a new tab). From this table it can be estimated that there were 75 HEPs in the UK with students enrolled in first degrees in the subject area of ‘computer games and animation’ in the 2021/22 academic year. A breakdown of the statistics by UK nation is included in the table below.
UK HE with students enrolled in first degrees in computer games and animation* subjects for the 2021/22 academic year
|HEP Country||Number of HEP offering courses in computer games and animation|
*Counts of HEPs with full-person-equivalent students enrolled in first degrees in the subject area of ‘computer games and animation’.
More up-to-date information on the availability of first degrees in video games related subjects currently advertised by providers (additionally including HE in Further Education providers) in the UK can be found by searching ‘video games’ on the DiscoverUni website. Participation in ‘computer games and animation’ was identified using the Common Aggregation Hierarchy third level grouping (CAH03). More information on CAH03 codes can be found at the following link: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/collection/c21051/derived/xcah03(opens in a new tab).
Wave 3 T Levels: overlapping qualifications
Department for Education
25 May 2023
A provisional list of qualifications that have been assessed to overlap with wave 3 T Levels:
- business and administration
- engineering and manufacturing
- finance and accounting
Subject to the appeals process, they will have 16-to-19 funding approval withdrawn for new starts from 1 August 2025.
Additional guidance is provided on the appeals process, which is now open.
An equalities impact assessment has been conducted on these qualifications, and further information on the enrolments is also provided.
£165 million fund launched to transform local skills
Department for Education and The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP
24 May 2023
Local communities across the country are set to benefit from a share of £165 million to transform skills training in their area and help get more people into jobs closer to home.
Further education providers are invited to apply for cash from the Local Skills Improvement Fund, which will be used to renovate facilities with up-to-date equipment, help to upskill teachers, and deliver new courses in key subjects such as green construction, carbon capture and cyber security that meet the needs of local employers. This means that wherever there are skills black holes, they will now be filled.
Thousands of people will benefit from this boost to skills training, helping them secure good jobs close to where they live. It will also provide a boost to local economies, as employers will have access to a workforce which is equipped with the specific skills businesses need to grow.
Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said:
Building a world-class skills and apprenticeships nation means listening to the specific needs of local people, businesses, and institutions.
This funding will revolutionise how we plug local skills gaps and provide a boost to the economy. Supporting colleges to better meet the needs of local employers not only boosts businesses, it extends the ladder of opportunity to even more people from all backgrounds who will be equipped with the skills they need to secure a rewarding job close to home.
Successful applicants will receive funding to invest in a broad range of initiatives that respond to the specific priorities identified in each area’s Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). The plans have been created by employer representative bodies in every region of the country and set out the key priorities and changes needed in each area to make post-16 technical training more closely aligned to local labour market needs.
The initiative builds on the success of the Strategic Development Fund, which has already made £157 million available to the further education sector to invest in a range of projects that have had a huge impact on plugging skills gaps in communities up and down the country. This includes investment in the equipment and facilities needed to upskill people in areas such as electric and hybrid vehicle maintenance, automation and artificial intelligence.
New City College is part of the collaborative Green Academy Partnership of 13 colleges across London which received a share of £961k revenue and £1.5m capital SDF funding for Green Labs, with investment in key technologies in the low carbon and renewables sector.
Jamie Stevenson, Group Executive Director at New City College said:
Being the project lead for the Central London Forward SDF project has enabled us, alongside local employers and stakeholders, to pioneer a new way of working. From the project’s inception, we have worked collaboratively to identify and meet the local need for high quality technical training to develop green skills. This has included upskilling teaching staff and setting an industry-leading standard for low carbon energy learning labs.
The SDF has made an important contribution to local people and employers in Central London by providing access to green skills training which supports people to get a good job or further develop their career in the low carbon energy sector, enabling us to work towards meeting the 2050 net zero challenge.
Weston College is one of four colleges in the West of England which received a share of £1.2m revenue and £1.5m capital SDF funding to invest in training and state-of-the-art equipment for the Aerospace, Advanced Engineering and Health and Social Care sectors to meet the urgent skills needs of the region and the pace of technological development.
Sir Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College said:
This funding has been a catalyst for change for our delivery of skills in the West of England, bringing together educational providers and employers around the table to ensure partnerships are both proactive and effective.
We have been able to use the funds to tailor provision to employer needs but also to ensure it fits with the regions we serve. It is absolutely important that this ground breaking work continues to advance with the flexibilities to match each area’s priorities and the specialist skills needed for the industries that are so key to both our regional and national economic growth.
Government must pause post-16 education shake-up or risk making skills shortages worse
House of Commons
28 April 2023
Rushing ahead with major reforms to post-16 qualifications risks leaving young people stranded without suitable qualification pathways and deepening worker shortages in key sectors, the Education Committee says in a new report.
- Read the full report (HTML)
- Read the report summary (HTML)
- Read the full report (PDF 864KB)
- Find all publications related to this inquiry, including oral and written evidence
This is due to the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) plans to withdraw funding from tried and tested Applied General Qualifications (AGQs), such as BTECs, before there is sufficient time for the evaluation and rollout of T Levels, the recently introduced technical alternative to A Levels.
The Committee’s report The future of post-16 qualifications urges DfE to place a moratorium on the withdrawal of funding for AGQs until there is robust evidence that T Levels are demonstrably more effective at helping students progress, meeting industry needs and promoting social mobility. This argument was made by the vast majority of those who submitted evidence to the inquiry.
The cross-party Committee finds that withdrawing funding for many AGQs prematurely risks constricting student choice and narrowing progression opportunities. This could in turn lead to an increase in the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Meanwhile, the introduction of T Levels Since 2019 has been weakened by concern over unequal regional access to industry placements (the mandatory 9-week component of the programme), scalability concerns, and an apparent decline in employer interest in offering placements. T Levels will not succeed without significant industry buy-in.
The Committee argues that the ability of businesses large and small to offer sufficient, high-quality placements, and a clear track record of T Level success, should be prerequisites to scrapping AGQs.
MPs heard that T Levels may not be accessible to students with lower academic attainment or with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). DfE introduced the T Level Transition Programme for learners who require an additional year of preparation, but only 14% of the programme’s first cohort of students moved onto a T Level – a figure the Committee calls “entirely inadequate”.
The report also notes the dramatic 41% decline in under-19s starting apprenticeships between 2015/16 and 2021/22. New starts on level 2 (GCSE equivalent) apprenticeships fell 69% over the same period.
The majority of apprenticeships are instead undertaken by older, more qualified adults. The Committee urges the Government to address this and make apprenticeships the gold-standard ‘earn and learn’ option for young people.
MPs also call for a “wholesale review” of 16-19 funding after hearing about the difficulties the sector faced due to real terms reductions in funding between 2010 and 2020.
Education Committee Chair Robin Walker MP said:
“We welcome the Government’s ambition to declutter the post-16 landscape and raise the status of technical qualifications. The Prime Minister was right when he hailed further education as a silver bullet that could boost productivity by giving workers the right skills for an evolving economy.
“We were also buoyed by evidence that T Levels are proving successful. But it is essential that DfE promotes them among students and the thousands of employers needed to supply work placements, or else T Levels will fail to make a meaningful difference.
“We have concerns about the feasibility of scaling up T Levels, and as it stands, the planned withdrawal of AGQs will constrict student choice and could deepen the skills shortages that these reforms are meant to fix, including in vital sectors such as social care – effectively pulling the rug from under the further education system. We call for a moratorium on these reforms until T Levels are fully rolled out and there is robust evidence to show they adequately replace AGQs.
“Ministers must also ensure T Levels don’t leave students unrewarded for their efforts. Clear pathways need to be established to ensure T Level graduates can seamlessly progress to a range of destinations including undergraduate degrees, apprenticeships and Higher Technical Qualifications.
“We also call on DfE to reverse the sharp decline in apprenticeship starts and address the perverse situation where the majority of apprenticeships are being given to older, already highly qualified adults at the expense of young people, and the taxpayer.”
What are T Levels?
T Levels began in 2019/20. They are two-year, level 3 courses (broadly equivalent to three A Levels) that include a nine-week industry placement. Sixteen of the 24 planned T Level courses are now in operation in fields including agriculture, business and management, craft and design, and legal services. The Committee heard up to 250,000 industry placements a year may be needed once they are fully rolled out.
The problems that T Levels are meant to solve
Witnesses told the Committee that the landscape of post-16 qualifications is varied, complex and fails to equip students with skills the economy needs, or to prepare young people for the world of work.
The Committee recommends that DfE set an ambitious target for at least 75% of young people to be qualified to level 3 (T Level or A Level equivalent) by 2030, up from 62% in 2021. Within this target should be a concentrated effort to prioritise skills for the future economy.
What needs fixing?
Experts said the first cohort of T Levels went “very well” and that they are an improvement on BTECs and AGQs. But chapter 3 of the report highlights issues that need addressing:
- Research from 2021 suggested the majority of young people hadn’t heard of T Levels. DfE research also showed employers’ interest in providing T Level work placements fell between 2019-2021, from 36% to 30%.
- The one-year Transition Programme was designed to make the qualification more accessible, but just 14% of its first cohort progressed to a T Level.
- A lack of data to show how effective T Levels are at supporting student progression into skilled employment, apprenticeships and higher education.
- Around one-fifth of the first cohort of T Level students dropped out as they proved challenging for students with lower academic attainment, or who have SEND.
- Because of their specialist nature, many universities aren’t accepting T Levels alone for undergraduate degrees and are additionally requiring relevant A Levels.
DfE must fast-track publication of data on the education, apprenticeship, and employment destinations for the first cohort of T Level students in order to inform further decisions. It must work with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to clearly map progression opportunities for T Level students to help reduce uncertainty and demonstrate how they can be a springboard to further study, training and work.
The Department should launch an awareness campaign to improve recognition of T Levels among students, parents and employers. It should also convene an employer-led industry placement taskforce to tackle the current lack of awareness, with particular emphasis on incorporating the views of small and medium-sized enterprises. Until July 2022, employers could claim £1,000 for every T Level industry placement. DfE should reinstate this incentive for SMEs.
Don’t rush to defund AGQs
The current timeline for withdrawing funding for AGQs doesn’t allow sufficient time for the evaluation of T Levels to evidence that they will be a suitable replacement across all subject areas. The Sixth Form Colleges Association said DfE should “wait for evidence… before making potentially irreversible and hugely damaging decisions”. The Institute of Directors and the Association of Employers and Learning Providers gave similar warnings.
There were concerns that the changes would disproportionately impact children with SEND or those living in areas of the country in which T Levels are less well established. We heard that learners who are unable or unwilling to complete T Levels or A levels could be left without an appropriate study programme, which could result in an inadvertent rise in 16-18 NEET rates.
DfE’s plans for AGQs put students at risk of not having options to enrol on either T Level or AGQ courses. This is a threat to the pipeline of skills needed by employers and the economy.
The Department must place a moratorium on defunding tried and tested AGQs until there is robust evidence that T Levels are more effective in preparing students for progression, meeting industry needs and promoting social mobility.
Reverse the decline in apprenticeships
The Committee heard that a high proportion of apprenticeships are being taken up by older, well educated people. The number of places going to under-19s fell by 41% between 2015/16 and 2021/22, and particularly concerning was the 69% drop in the number of starts on intermediate apprenticeships (GCSE equivalent). There was a 19% increase in young people starting apprenticeships in 2021, but it remains to be seen if this was a rebound from the pandemic.
DfE must commission an independent review of possible mechanisms to reverse the decline in young people taking up apprenticeships. It could, for example, reform the apprenticeship levy to incentivise firms to offer places to younger learners, and allow SMEs to share apprentices.
We need more maths teachers
In January the Prime Minister proposed making the study of a maths qualification compulsory up to age 18 and highlighted the growing importance of analytical, data and statistical skills. In addition to A Level maths, students can take a level 3 core maths qualification which offers real-world, applied maths including financial topics. But this is offered by only a small number of schools and colleges and there were just 11,791 entries in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Committee heard that DfE has missed its targets for recruiting qualified maths teachers every year for the last 11 years.
We believe more students should have the opportunity to study a level 3 core maths qualification, as A Level maths will not be appropriate for all. The Government should also consider a qualification or accreditation in numeracy as an alternative to requiring those who fail GCSE maths to sit re-examinations.
DfE must work with the sector to clearly set out how it will tackle the recruitment and retention challenges with qualified maths teachers and build a stronger foundation of numeracy and mathematical skills and knowledge at GCSE and below.
Review FE funding
The Government announced an extra £2.3 billion of funding for further education in 2021, followed by a further £125 million for 2023/24. The most recent boost comprised 2.2% increase in the 16-19 base rate of funding, and £40m for specific subjects including engineering, construction and digital subjects. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said colleges and sixth forms are “in a particularly difficult position” and that the new funding “will only partially reverse the large cuts that took place up to 2020”.
The Committee urges the Government to undertake a wholesale review of 16-19 funding, including offering more targeted support for disadvantaged students.
Lords debates financial pressures on higher education
House of Lords
31 March 2023
On Thursday 30 March, members of the House of Lords debated the financial pressures on higher education and the impact on local communities, UK science and innovation exports, and delivery of the Turing Scheme.
Lord Knight of Weymouth (Labour), Chief Education Advisor for TES Global Ltd, put forward the debate.
This was a general debate. During debates, members put their experience to good use to discuss current issues and draw the government’s attention to concerns.
Members speaking in the debate included:
- Lord Austin of Dudley (Non-affiliated), corporation member of the Dudley College of Technology
- Baroness Garden of Frognal (Liberal Democrat), fellow of the Chartered Institute of Further Education
- Lord Leong (Labour), director and chair of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth.
Members spoke about a range of subjects. Opening the debate, Lord Knight of Weymouth said:
‘A healthy, vibrant higher education sector is essential as this country seeks to grow and thrive…the balance between tuition fee income from UK students and UK government funding has shifted significantly in the last decade, and this is the core of the problem.’
Baroness Barran (Conservative), Minister for the School System and Student Finance, responded on behalf of the government:
‘The government’s principal priority for students is to ensure that their best interests are protected…to deliver better value to students and to keep the cost of higher education under control, we have frozen the maximum tuition fees for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years…higher education providers will continue to play an integral role in supporting this government’s aim of levelling up productivity and employment.’
University and investor experts to head up review of UK spin-out landscape
9 March 2023
- Professor Irene Tracey CBE and Dr Andrew Williamson appointed to lead review into turning university research into commercial success.
- The independent review will identify best practice in the field to promote innovation and grow businesses of the future, as part of the Chancellor’s vision to nurture the world’s next Silicon Valley.
- Both experts will work hand-in-hand with universities, investors, and founders to advise government on how to continue to capitalise on the UK’s world-leading university research.
Two leading university and investor experts have been appointed to identify best practice in turning university research into commercial success, in order to help the UK fulfil its ambition to become a Science and Technology Superpower.
Professor Irene Tracey CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford and member of the Medical Research Council of UK Research and Innovation, and Dr Andrew Williamson, Chair of the Venture Capital Committee at the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA), will consult with universities, investors, and founders to identify best practice in university spin-outs – companies born through university research.
The financing of innovative science and technology companies like these is a key tenet of the UK Science and Technology Framework, with a view to strengthening the pipeline of high-quality science and technology businesses and spin-outs that drive growth in the economy across this decade.
The review aims to evaluate performance across universities and identify best practice in spin-outs and licencing deals for university intellectual property to promote the continued growth of the sector, which upholds the UK’s role at the forefront in seeding and growing innovative businesses of the future.
The UK university sector is a world-leader, playing an integral role in supporting economic growth and fuelling innovation across the country. The commercialisation of its research has also been on an upward trajectory over the last decade – investment in UK university spin-outs has increased more than five-fold to £5 billion in 2021.
The review launched today will seek to build upon those strengths, harnessing them to boost global competitiveness with other leading spin-out regimes like the US.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said:
“Our universities are among the world’s best and are crucial driving forces for innovation and economic growth.
“We want the UK to be the world’s next Silicon Valley and to get there the government must help spin-outs to thrive. The expertise of Professor Tracey and Dr Williamson will be invaluable in ensuring we have the right support in place.”
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said:
“UK universities are long-established global leaders in research and it’s no accident that four of the world’s top ten universities call Britain home.
“However, our world-leading research apparatus hasn’t always translated into the raft of game-changing business giants you would expect. We can and will do more to support university spin-outs to become global business titans that generate highly-skilled jobs and rapid economic growth for the UK. This review will clearly set out the actions we can take to make sure the UK is the ultimate incubator for world class innovative business.”
Professor Irene Tracey CBE and Dr Andrew Williamson said:
“We are delighted to be involved with this timely and important review. We recognise the fundamental role that university spin-outs play in driving UK economic growth and in stimulating an entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem in Britain.
“Now is the time to review what the best processes are for both creating and structuring spin-outs so that we’re ready for this anticipated expansion in innovation clusters around the country. We look forward to partnering with stakeholders from the academic, entrepreneurship, and investment communities to identify opportunities to increase the impact of this important sector of our economy.”
Professor Tracey and Dr Williamson will report back to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology in the summer.