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Alternative pathways in education refers to alternative means of obtaining educational qualifications, other than the traditional means of gaining access to or completing the required study to obtain the educational qualifications.
The traditional means of entry to tertiary education involves completing secondary school and obtaining the standard school leaving educational qualification offered in a particular region prior to progressing to university or other higher education study. In the United States, this qualification is the High School Diploma, or the General Education Development (GED) if high school was not completed. In the United Kingdom, this qualification would typically be the A-levels. These qualifications typically have an academic orientation. Alternative pathways, however, may feature non-standard academic or other qualifications.
Certain qualifications may be jointly applicable to entry into vocational and academic post-secondary studies. The Edexcel Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) suite of vocational qualifications are such an example, as these qualifications taken at the pre-university level (typically QCF Level 3) in appropriate subjects may also be used for entry into many universities in the United Kingdom, and are awarded points on the UCAS tariff system for application to university. BTEC qualifications included on the UCAS Tariff Tables include Certificates and Extended Certificates, Diplomas, Specialist qualifications, and Nationals.
Purely vocational qualifications as well as skills development qualifications of sufficient difficulty and rigour may also be accepted or considered, instead of or in addition to standard academic qualifications, for entry into university. For admission into universities in the United Kingdom, the UCAS Tariff Tables awards points towards a number of vocational and skills development qualifications, including select qualifications from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN), the British Horse Society, Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE), Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), City and Guilds, ifs School of Finance, Edexcel, Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), and certain educational institutions and examination boards of the performing arts.
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