Technical degrees and higher vocational education

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This paper focuses on the proposals for the introduction of ‘technical degrees’ in English higher education institutions advanced by the Labour Party’s Liam Byrne in a document entitled ‘Robbins Rebooted’ which was published in August 2014 by the Social Market Foundation. The context and rationale for the proposed technical degrees is discussed, identifying assumptions and implications of the proposed policy. Drawing on studies of related workforce development and higher vocational initiatives, potential problems that could arise with the implementation of the policy are outlined. This leads on to a discussion on whether the curriculum that technical degrees would offer would be an adequate preparation for work and whether the qualifications in themselves would achieve as much credibility as alternative routes through higher education. In the event, the opportunity to introduce technical degrees in the form advanced by Byrne did not arise, as the Labour Party lost the general election in 2015 and did not return to office.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number1
Early online date16 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • higher education policy
  • higher vocational
  • Technical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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