In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, secondary vocational education is usually known as further education. It is considered to be separate from secondary education and not to be part of higher education either. Further education includes both vocationally oriented education and combinations of general secondary and vocational education.

Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC)

In 1984, the Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) began offering vocational programmes at various levels of the national qualification framework:

  • Level 2-3 in British vocational secondary education; and
  • Level 4-7 in British higher professional education.

BTEC Level 3 programmes

Students can obtain a variety of certificates and diplomas at Level 3 of the Qualifications Framework. These programmes vary in terms of duration and study hours. The study hours are calculated in GLH, Guided Learning Hours. A number of examples are provided in the table below. The table also specifies the organisation which awards the diplomas, such as Pearson or Edexcel (as of 2010).

Qualification - since 2016 Qualification - 2010-2016 Qualification - 2007-2010 Study load in GLH
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Certificate Pearson BTEC Level 3 Certificate - 180
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Award 360
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma - 540
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Certificate 720
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Diploma 1080

Of these diplomas, only the BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma entitles the graduate to admission to higher professional education in the Netherlands.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

We compare the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma to an MBO diploma level 4.

Want to know more?

Do you have questions about secondary vocational education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Contact SBB, the expertise centre for foreign diplomas and study programmes at VMBO and MBO level.