HE Exams Wiki

Funding guidelines for students aged 16-19 at college mean that students who do not have GCSE English and Maths at Grade 4 / C or above, or IGCSEs, or a specified alternative qualification at the same level, have to attend classes in those subjects while working towards a qualification at college.

IGCSEs are listed in the government guidelines as acceptable equivalents to GCSE for this purpose.

Why was this condition brought in?

The rationale behind this funding requirement was the independent Wolf report into post-16 education, which recommended this to ensure that Further Education (FE) colleges continued to provide maths and English teaching to students who were not yet capable of a good pass.

Note that you can still go to college if you don't have these qualifications, BUT you will need to work towards them while at college.

Note also that this page is talking about the government requirements. However, each college can still make its own requirements and they may still insist you continue studying English and maths in some form.

The requirements were updated on 13 February 2019 and this page has been amended to reflect this.

What do you have to study at college?

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If you have no GCSEs in English/maths, or a GCSE or IGCSE pass at grade 2 or below, you can study towards Functional Skills Level 2 in English and /or maths. Once you've achieved FS Level 2, you no longer have to continue studying those subjects to meet the funding requirements.

If you have GCSE or IGCSE Grade 3 then you need to study towards GCSE Grade 4 or higher.

If you have GCSE or IGCSE Grade 4 or higher, or any of the other alternative qualifications specified, then you do not have to continue with English and maths.

Note that the requirement for those with no GCSE, or a GCSE grade 2 or lower, was changed on 13 February 2019. Before this, everyone had to study towards GCSE grade 4 or higher.

What do colleges need to know about IGCSEs?

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Some colleges are not up-to-date with the latest guidance on funding at 16-19. This is understandable because it has not been easy to follow, and has been updated regularly to include more qualifications.

The government guidance on funding and English and maths at 16-19 states that IGCSEs meet the conditions. Screenshots of the relevant sections are on this page (up-to-date as of July 2019), and the text includes the following  :

"International GCSEs, regulated or unregulated, or equivalent level 1/ level 2 certificates in maths and English all count as equivalent to GCSEs for the purposes of recognising prior attainment in the 16 to 19 maths and English condition of funding.

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Students who hold these qualifications in maths and English at GCSE grade 9 to 4 or A* to C will not have to continue their study of these subjects."

Note that the funding guidance also mentions 'Qualifications approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds'. These are the courses that colleges are allowed to teach, and this is different from the list of qualifications which are recognised as showing your own attainment. There are 'notes on individual qualification types' on the page as a sub-section of 'Qualifications approved for teaching' , which says:

  • international GCSEs no longer meet the condition of funding; however, they do continue to count as equivalent to GCSEs for the purposes of recognising prior attainment

  • holding the International Certificate in Christian Education (ICCE) exempts a student from further study in maths and English; when students have achieved an ICCE, institutions can record an exemption for holding an overseas equivalent qualification

English Language OR Literature accepted

IGCSE English counts as equivalent to GCSE English, and a pass in either English language OR English literature meets the requirements.

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The government says that a pass in either English language OR English literature meets the requirements.

See 16-19 Funding Guidance - Prior Attainment.

The table on that page shows that even if you have a low grade, or no grade, in English language, if you have a grade 4 or above (grade C) in English literature then you have met the condition.

Occasionally you will come across a Further Education college whose staff are unaware of this - in which case, please just direct them to the Department for Education guidance linked above.