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AIM Qualification and Assessment Group

ESFA changes in funding

Through one of its funded qualification offers, and as long as the qualification meets certain approval principles, The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will fund learners to undertake qualifications. A full list of these qualifications can be found on the Department for Education website.

Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below – funding approval moratorium and funding removal

Funding approval moratorium

The Department for Education is in the process of reviewing post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below with the aim of developing a streamlined qualification's system for students aged 16 and over. The first stage consultation on the review was published in March 2019 and set out their intention to apply a funding moratorium from 1 September 2020. This is now in place – the ESFA is now not considering new regulated qualifications for funding approval for students aged 16 and over (including 19 plus).

Funding removal 2021

As part of implementing the review, the ESFA will annually withdraw funding approval from qualifications with low and no publicly funded enrolments. This will help to ensure that qualifications the government approves for funding have demand and provide value for students. The first round of this process ended in December 2020, and as a result certain AIM qualification, found here,  will have funding approval removed from 1st  August 2021 for new starts. A full list of all qualifications affected can be found on the government website. The first round only considered qualifications with no publicly funded enrolments. The ESFA moved the process to remove qualifications with low enrolments from the first round into this second round due to the impact of COVID-19 during spring and summer 2020.

Funding removal 2022

The ESFA are now launching the second round. This will identify qualifications with low and no publicly funded enrolments whose funding will be removed for new starts from 1st August 2022, and the initial list of AIM qualifications affected can be found here.

There is scope for Awarding Organisations to request to retain funding approval based on certain criteria:

  • technical error (e.g. number of funded enrolments)
  • If there is evidence of increased public demand for the qualification from eligible students
  • that removing funding for new starts on the qualification will have significant adverse impact on:
  • a specific group of students particularly those who are covered by the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010
  • a provider or specific group of providers of education and training that have a funding agreement with the ESFA
  • a subject or occupational sector, for example by there being a need and lack of alternative; and/or
  • a geographical area, a local authority or a combined mayoral authority

If a centre believes a qualification should retain funding approval, based on the criteria above, please contact AIM by the end of February 2021 enquiries@aim-group.org.uk  Please note that it is only Awarding Organisations that can request to retain funding with the ESFA. Full information about the review can be found on the Department for Education Department for Education website

What happens next

AIM Centre Leads are currently contacting all centres with qualification affected by the review to discuss options. In the meantime, please look at the Qualifications Search Tool to find potential alternative qualifications.


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