This research explored progression to higher education (HE) courses from 14–19 diplomas in the West Yorkshire region of the UK. Sixteen HE tutors involved in admitting undergraduates across a range of institutions and subjects were interviewed. There was little evidence to support the fear that the courses would have less status than A levels because of their vocational associations. Where reservations existed they were more complex than this. Tutors working on courses relating to social care valued the diploma's emphasis on generic academic skills and work experience. Those delivering highly focused vocational courses or academic courses requiring prior subject‐specific knowledge were more cautious. The main barriers to securing full commitment from tutors were the breadth of study options within the diplomas, which left tutors unclear about the knowledge and skills candidates would acquire, and tutors' limited understanding of the diplomas.