Update: Post-16 level 3 and below withdrawal of funding approval from qualifications with low and no publicly funded enrolments

First Cycle

In February 2020, we shared the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA’s) plans to remove funding approval from qualifications with low and no enrolments. This included potentially removing funding approval for 16 to 19 study programmes, ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB) including legal entitlements and local flexibility, advanced learner loans and European social fund (ESF) for qualifications that fell into their specific criteria.

Following the unprecedented Covid-19 circumstances, we further updated you regarding the revised timelines the ESFA set out for the first cycle which included the following updates:

  • Qualifications on the “no enrolment” list – The ESFA extended the deadline for qualifications listed under this category and following any appeals, the final list of qualifications would have their public funding removed from 31st July 2021.
  • Qualifications on the “low enrolment” list – The ESFA suspended this process and advised that any qualifications listed would retain their funding approvals for 2021/22. They advised that they would be relaunching this notification process in the Autumn within the second cycle and an updated list of qualifications would be released which would potentially have funding removed from August 2022. 

Following the revised timelines, the ESFA released the final “no enrolment” list to Awarding Organisations in early December 2020 which included 9 Ascentis qualifications. These qualifications have had no publicly funded enrolments since 2017/18 and will therefore have their funding approval removed from 1st August 2021.

Second Cycle

In mid-December 2020, the ESFA released the second cycle of qualifications at level 3 and below which have low or no publicly funded enrolments and which are in scope to have funding approval withdrawn for new starts from 1 August 2022. 

  • Qualifications on the “no enrolment” list – The ESFA defined a qualification with no publicly funded enrolments as one which has been approved and operational for three years and has had zero publicly funded enrolments in each of the three funding years. There are 12 qualifications listed for Ascentis on this list that will potentially have public funding removed from 1st August 2022.
  • Qualifications on the “low enrolment” list – The ESFA defined a qualification with low publicly funded enrolments as one which has been approved and operational for three years and has had between zero and 99 publicly funded enrolments in each of the three funding years (but not zero in all three years). There are 133 qualifications listed for Ascentis on this list that will potentially have public funding removed from 1st August 2022.

The ESFA confirmed to Awarding Organisations that the process to make a request to retain public funding was available again for the second cycle with a deadline of 5th March 2021. This included where removal of public funding could have a significant adverse impact on a specific group of students, provider, a subject or occupational sector or a geographical area. Ascentis contacted centres regarding collating evidence to support the requests to appeal qualifications to retain public funding by this deadline. Ascentis have received confirmation of the qualifications that the ESFA have agreed to continue to publicly fund for funding year 2022-2023. Please see the updated list here

Following this, the ESFA advised Awarding Organisations that there was a further appeal process to make a request to retain public funding within two weeks from receipt of their email. Ascentis submitted further appeals after considering the guidance and contacted centres appropriately for any evidence needed. Ascentis received the final decision from the ESFA regarding these second appeals and have now advised centres of the outcome.

Ascentis would like to confirm that all qualifications listed on the final ESFA list will continue to be publicly funded for next academic year August 2021-July 2022.

If you would like to talk to us about any of the qualifications listed or if you have any questions or concerns regarding this, please get in touch by emailing development@ascentis.co.uk

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