- What is a UTC?
A college for students aged 14 to 18 which specialises in technical
studies and is sponsored by a university. It offers full time
courses which combine practical and academic studies. Employers are
involved from the start in shaping the curriculum.
- What are the advantages of a student going to a UTC instead of staying on at their previous school?
It allows a student to study a subject they are really interested
in which is taught in industry standard facilities by teachers with
real life practical experience. By 16 their technical skills are
far in advance of those students in a standard comprehensive school
and more enthusiastic engagement with their academic studies leads
to greater achievement in this area also.
- What is the difference between UTCs and Free Schools?
UTCs and Free Schools are both academies. They are non-profit
making, independent and state-funded. UTCs, however, are
specifically for students aged 14 to 18, they specialise in
technical studies and are supported by a university and employers.
They offer full time courses which combine practical and academic
studies. Employers are involved from the start in shaping the
curriculum. On the other hand, Free Schools can be primary or
secondary schools. They can be located in traditional school
buildings or appropriate community spaces such as office buildings
or church halls. They can be set up by a wide range of proposers -
including charities, universities, businesses, educational groups,
visionary teachers or committed parents.
- What is the reason for starting at 14?
11 is too early to choose a subject path to follow and 16 is too
late. Students who know what they want to do can often become bored
at school and so underachieve by the time they are 16.
- Isn't 14 too young to specialise?
No. UTC students receive a broad education including English,
maths and science combined with practical and technical
qualifications which are recognised by employers and universities.
They also develop business and financial literacy. The skills they
learn and the qualifications they receive are transferable to other
post-16 provisions and are recognised by employers.
- Who are UTCs aimed at?
They are aimed at students who
- have an interest in the UTC's specialism
- enjoy learning practically as well as academically
- are committed to an enjoyable, interesting and practical
education which they know is preparing them for the workplace.
- Where do students go after they leave at 18-19?
They go either to university or to a higher level
UTCs are not training them for a specific job.
UTCs are educating their students so that after leaving the UTC
they are better prepared for university or are able to take on a
'proper' apprenticeship which lasts around two years and is at
level 3 or level 4.
- What qualifications will students leave with at 18?
UTCs will be offering a range of A levels and level 3 technical
qualifications and most students will leave with a variety of these
(e.g. BTECS and City & Guilds). UTCs will make sure that every
leaver has a GCSE in English and in maths.
- Where does the University fit in?
The university leads or serves on the governing body of the UTC.
It can also help in the following ways:
- Contributing to the development of the curriculum to ensure
that it reflects the most up to date methods and prepares students
for higher education.
- Allowing university staff to assist in the teaching of areas in
which they have particular expertise e.g. teaching mathematics for
- Providing continual professional development (CPD)
opportunities for the staff of the UTC.
- Supporting and mentoring students, in particular those who
might be considering or have the ability to consider entry to
- Allowing the UTC to use university specialist facilities to
inform and inspire the students.
- Providing undergraduate and foundation degree modules to UTC
students who have the ability to benefit from them.
- Does going to a UTC improve prospects of getting into the affiliated University or college?
It would help a student to move into higher education because of
the support they have received from the university but the UTC is
not part of the university and there is no guarantee of a place at
a particular university. The University may well see the UTC
as part of its recruitment plan.
- What role will FE colleges play?
FE colleges can be involved as a co-sponsor bringing their
expertise in technical education but an important feature of UTCs
is that they are not part of the FE college. The university and
employers must form the majority of the board of governors. This
gives them the credibility that technical schools did not have. The
name of the university is often featured in the title of the UTC.
The university does not have to provide financial support but it
does make a major commitment to provide expertise and time and
actively contributes to the curriculum. Strong employer links are
also a key feature of UTCs and are involved in shaping the
curriculum. Support from the local authority is also welcomed.
- Does a UTC have a specialist subject area?
Yes. Usually they have two specialisms e.g. engineering and
- How will a UTC improve job prospects?
Employers play a major part in UTCs. They help plan what students
are going to learn and ensure that the qualifications students gain
are what employers require. They also meet the students on work
placements in order to get to know them.
- What is the role of employers in a UTC
A number of employers sponsor the UTC in that they have seats on
the governing body and will have an active role in curriculum
design and planning. UTCs will typically have a large number of
employer partners in their region and these will be interested in
contributing to the curriculum, providing work experience and
building close links with students who will be potential future
- What are the options for continuing in education after a UTC?
Students can either go onto to a higher level apprenticeship in
employment or onto a university. The UTC will help them decide
which is the best route for them.
- Which qualifications will they offer?
This will vary but all offer GCSEs in at least English, maths and
science combined with a modern foreign language, a humanities
subject and practical and technical qualifications which are
recognised by employers and universities.
- Can you study the English Baccalaureate at a UTC?
Yes. All offer the GCSEs listed above, but subjects will vary
depending on the UTC and its individual specialism.
- Do they offer GCSEs and A Levels as well as technical qualifications?
Yes but you will have to ask each UTC which ones they offer.
- What experience will teachers have in the UTCs specialist areas?
The teaching staff will be made up of school teachers, instructors
and people who have worked in industry. (Most of the teachers will
have worked in the area of the UTC's specialism).
- How is the curriculum organised?
The core national curriculum requirements will be provided, but
outside of the national curriculum, the subjects available at GCSE
will depend on the UTC.
At 14-16 the split of time between general education/bridging core
studies and technical studies is 60:40 respectively. For general
education they will take English; maths; science; a modern
language; humanities; sport/PE; and PSHE; RE; enrichment
activities, financial literacy; understanding and setting up a
business; IT; and careers education and guidance.
Broad technical studies would be e.g. engineering; experience of
work, projects; and mentoring. Post-16, students will be able to
continue with their studies or they may choose to do an
apprenticeship, which might include part-time study at the UTC. If
students choose to continue full-time study at the UTC the split of
time between general education/bridging core studies and technical
studies will become 40:60 respectively. The technical study will
become more specialised and job-related.
- How does a UTC day differ from school hours?
A UTC will typically be open from 8.30am - 5.00pm, perhaps with an
earlier finish on Monday or Friday.
UTC hours vs an ordinary school:
Ordinary school, 25 hours per week x 38 weeks = 950 hrs per
UTC: 8.30 - 5.00, 7.5 hours x 5 = 37.5 hrs per week.
Finishing 1 hr early on Fridays = 36.5 hrs per week x 40 weeks =
1460 per year.
Extra teacher time between a UTC & ordinary school = 510 per
year. 510 x 2 over two years = 1020 hours extra (more than a year's
worth in an ordinary school.)
In her report, Alison Wolf is clear that an ordinary school should
devote only 20% of its time to vocational subjects but note that
with a UTC's longer school day it could afford 40% of its time.
- How do students fit all the learning in? Isn't it too much?
The typical school day of a UTC runs from 8.30am to 5.00pm to
prepare students for the working week and to allow for extra
teaching and practical time. There are usually four or five terms
over forty weeks. These major changes significantly increase the
teaching period over five years, adding a whole extra year of
instruction. There is no homework; all work is done within school
hours. Extra-curricular enrichment activities all happen within the
- What is the funding model?
University Technical Colleges come under the academies programme,
from where they obtain funding after receiving DfE approval.
- Can existing schools or colleges 'convert' to a UTC?
No. UTCs are free standing institutions for 14 - 18 year olds
offering up to two specialisms. UTCs are academies but schools or
colleges cannot become a UTC by simply converting to academy
status. All applications for UTCs must be submitted to and approved
by the Department for Education.
- How many UTCs will there be?
We currently have 44 UTCs either in development or already open.
The Chancellor announced that funding is to be made available to
open a further 20 UTCs per year.
- Where is my nearest UTC?
There is a list of all UTCs that are open or in development on the
- How do I apply to become a UTC? When is the next round?
The DfE website gives information for future rounds. There will be
two UTC application rounds a year - the next ones being in October
2013 and spring 2014. Guidance and application forms for the next
round can be found on the Department's website by following the
An application form must be completed. The main point, however, is
that you have to have an active partnership between employers and
the university. The Baker Dearing Trust is happy to help with this
by visiting groups which might be interested so long as both
employers and university are at the meeting and preferably the
relevant local authority.
- My application was unsuccessful. Can I resubmit it in the next round?
Yes and the Baker Dearing Trust would be willing to work with you
to improve your application.
- How do people find out more about the Baker Dearing Educational Trust and UTCs?
If you would like further guidance on the process please
contact [at] utcolleges [dot] org , phone 020 7960 1555 or