Each year every effort will be made to add all proposed qualifications to the Tariff. When we need to prioritise, this will be based on feedback from higher education providers (HEPs) and we'll take into account the extent to which a qualification might support widening participation and/or a specialist progression route.
1. We receive requests for qualifications to be added to the Tariff
UK schools, colleges, and higher education providers (HEPs) can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request qualifications are added to the Tariff, and to request changes to current qualifications on the Tariff. The annual deadline for submissions is 30 June.
The nomination process is led by UK HEPs, but we welcome suggestions for qualifications to be added to the Tariff from schools and colleges. We will also receive updates from regulators and government bodies of newly accredited qualifications, as explained further below. Awarding organisations are welcome to email us about their new qualifications so that we can explain how they will be managed under the Tariff process.
Adding new qualifications
All qualifications must be accredited Level 3 or SCQF Level 6 qualifications or the international comparable level. New qualifications will be divided into two categories:
- Fast-track qualifications – UK qualification regulators and government bodies will automatically notify us when new fast-track qualifications have been accredited. These qualifications are governed by specific qualification criteria. For example, A levels, Applied General and Tech level qualifications. If you are interested in how new fast-track qualifications are added to the Tariff, please read our fast-track qualifications handout.
- Standard qualifications – UK higher education providers, schools or colleges, will need to nominate these qualifications to be added to the Tariff. Standard qualifications may include proprietary and international qualifications that do not fall under specific qualification criteria. The nominations will be discussed with the UCAS Qualifications Advisory Group (QAG), which is made up of representatives from schools, colleges, universities, and UCAS. Any decision made about the inclusion of these qualifications is at the discretion of UCAS.
- If you are interested in how standard qualifications are added to the new Tariff, please read our standard qualifications handout.
Making changes to current qualifications on the Tariff
While we do not expect qualifications on the Tariff to change, it is possible.
The changes that concern us relate to the guided learning hours associated with a qualification, or its grading structure, as these components are used to calculate Tariff points. The addition of subjects to a suite of qualifications already on the Tariff, does not impact on the Tariff.
Notification of changes to qualifications currently listed on the Tariff, will be categorised as:
- mandatory changes – these are overseen by regulators and/or government bodies and include changes such as A level reform and new Applied General and Tech level requirements. Read our mandatory changes to qualifications hand-out
- non-mandatory changes – these are generally initiated by awarding organisations themselves. For instance, changes to the grading structure of a specialist qualification from pass/fail to pass/merit/distinction and/or changes to the qualification level. For example, if certain grades of a qualification changed from Level 3/SCQF Level 6 to Level 2/SCQF Level 5 there would be an impact on Tariff points as Level 2 /SCQF Level 5 qualifications are not included on the new Tariff. Read our non-mandatory changes to qualifications hand-out
2. We provide a list for HEPs to review
At the beginning of September, we provide a list of new qualifications nominated to be added to the Tariff. As the new process is HEP led, we ask HEPs to input the following by 30 September:
- Proposed fast-track qualifications – no action required, HEPs simply need to note the new fast-track qualifications
- Proposed standard qualifications – HEPs are asked to comment on new standard qualifications in terms of whether they are high, medium or low to come on to the Tariff. Due to the inclusive nature of the Tariff process we hope to be able to add all qualifications to the Tariff, however this ranking will help us prioritise if necessary.
- Mandatory changes – no action required, HEPs simply need to note changes.
- Non-mandatory changes – we will generally seek support from 20 providers, which is circa 5% of our UCAS HEP customer base to support changes initiated by awarding organisations to standard qualifications. For example an awarding organisation’s (AO) decision to change a standard qualification’s grading structure from ABC to A*ABC would require HEP support.
Find out how qualifications are prioritised for inclusion on the Tariff, and refer to our hand-out for more information on how we allocate Tariff points (41.68 KB).
3. Feedback is considered
We collate and summarise the feedback we received, and this is considered at the March Qualifications Advisory Group (QAG) meeting.
The QAG, previously known as the Tariff Advisory Group, is a group of higher, further and secondary education representatives and UK qualification regulators. Executive members of Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) will also attend as observers to represent awarding organisations. The group has a broader remit going forward. It deals with Tariff related issues, reviews the content and structure of Qualification Information Profiles (QIPs), and provides advice on feedback UCAS receives on qualifications on the Tariff.
The Qualifications Advisory Group - Terms of Reference (173.64 KB) for this Group are live and we are seeking representatives. If you are interested in serving on this advisory group, please email Ben Jordan at email@example.com.
4. The list is published
An updated list of qualifications on the Tariff – along with any changes – is published in September each year. HEPs and awarding organisations will be notified of the newly added qualifications and Tariff points in advance of that date, i.e. in May each year.
Qualification Information Profiles (QIPs) provide important contextual information about a qualification, such as structure and assessment approach, in a common format that can be easily used by universities and colleges to compare qualifications to inform admissions decisions. The new Tariff is a broad metric of qualification size and grading structure, so we also publish QIPs. If a qualification is nominated for inclusion on the Tariff, we will send the AO a QIP template to complete with information about it. The AO will be responsible for the accuracy of the content and we will ask them for a named contact we can contact on an annual basis for updates.
We would like to know if QIPs are a helpful resource. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please email Ben Jordan, Senior Policy and Qualifications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UCAS Tariff and the Department for Education Applied General and Tech level qualifications
The UCAS Tariff seeks to have synergy with the qualifications that are listed on the Department for Education (DfE) Applied General and Tech level performance tables. These qualifications are reported in the Applied General and Tech level qualification category of the 16-19 performance tables from 2016 onwards.
The UCAS Tariff process has in it a ‘fast-track’ route, meaning that a qualification that appears on the DfE Applied General or Tech level performance tables will be automatically placed on the UCAS Tariff at the next available update in September each year. Each July, we will take an extract from the DfE performance tables and seek to add them to the UCAS Tariff in September of the following year. Any qualification added to the DfE performance tables after this extract has been taken will be included in the following year’s update.
View our Tariff points handout (41.68 KB) for more information on how we allocate points.
There is a range of general resources available to help support the transition to the new Tariff for teachers, advisers and higher education providers.
Background information on the Tariff
The UCAS Tariff was first introduced in 2001 to help those working in admissions to make comparisons between qualifications. Since then, however, both the range of qualifications held by applicants, and the variety of progression routes into HE, have increased.
In 2012, UCAS completed a review looking at what information universities and colleges, students, and schools and advisers needed about qualifications to facilitate admission to HE. The review identified the needs of admissions teams for more detailed, structured information about qualifications.
A feedback exercise with the HE sector, and secondary education community, shaped the new UCAS Tariff. This was agreed by the UCAS Board in June 2014, for implementation in the 2017 admissions cycle, i.e. for students making applications from September 2016 for full-time courses starting in 2017. The documents below provide some background information.