A new development for vocational higher education in England, degree apprenticeships combine full-time paid work with free part-time university study
Participants work for a leading graduate recruiter while studying for a full Bachelors or Masters degree at a top university. Programmes last between one and five years, and are co-designed by Tech Partnership employers and higher education institutions to ensure that apprentices graduate with the career-boosting practical skills their industry needs.
The qualification is similar to the higher apprenticeship; degree apprentices also have full-time employment status rather than student status. However, while work-based higher apprentices can gain a Bachelors-level qualification, university study is central to the degree apprenticeship programme.
Who is a degree apprenticeship for?
Degree apprenticeships are primarily targeted at 18 to 19-year-old school leavers as an alternative route to gaining a degree, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are deterred from studying a traditional full-time programme by high tuition fees and student debt. However, the qualification is suitable for anyone, including 16 to 18-year-olds and mature students.
In addition, the degree apprenticeship is expected to strengthen the 'vocational pathway', and support progression from craft and technical roles into management. This means that programmes are suitable for those who have completed lower-level apprenticeships but wish to advance their career through further study.
What can I study?
Degree apprenticeships are currently available in 13 key areas, though the government hopes to extend availability to other industries if the initiative is successful. The current areas are:
- aerospace engineering;
- aerospace software development;
- automotive engineering;
- digital industries;
- electronic systems engineering;
- financial services;
- life and industrial sciences;
- power engineering;
- public relations;
Which universities are involved?
Forty universities are committed to delivering an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 starts in 2016, though this number is expected to increase significantly over the coming years. Notable universities involved in the scheme include:
- Aerospace engineering and Aerospace software development - University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Lancaster University;
- Construction - Anglia Ruskin University, Birmingham City University, University of Derby, Liverpool John Moores University, London Southbank University, Southampton Solent University and University of the West of England;
- Defence - University of Bristol, University College London (UCL) and Cranfield University;
- Digital industries - Aston University, Exeter University, University of Greenwich, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of the West of England and Winchester University;
- Life and industrial sciences - University of Greenwich, University of Kent and Manchester Metropolitan University;
- Nuclear - University of Bristol and The University of Manchester;
- Power engineering - Coventry University;
- Surveying - Birmingham City University and London Southbank University.
The way that degree apprenticeships are delivered will vary, but all courses will include blocks of practical on-the-job training and academic study. Each programme will be tailored to suit individual employer needs and will be delivered in the style of the university's teaching model.
If you live in Scotland, Graduate Level Apprenticeships are a new addition to the country's apprenticeship offering, following on from the success of its Modern Apprenticeships programmes. Check which universities currently run these schemes at Apprenticeships.Scot - Graduate Level Apprenticeships.
Which employers are involved?
Organisations of all sizes can offer degree apprenticeships. However, notable employers involved in the scheme include:
- Aerospace engineering and Aerospace software development - Airbus, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce;
- Automotive - BMW Group UK, Toyota Manufacturing UK and Vauxhall Motors;
- Construction - BAM Construct UK Ltd, E-ON Energy Solutions Ltd and Willmott Dixon Holdings Ltd;
- Defence - General Dynamics, Raytheon and Serco;
- Digital industries - BT, Fujitsu and Network Rail;
- Electronic systems engineering - ARM, Embecosm and FlexEnable;
- Financial services - Barclays, HSBC and Santander;
- Life and industrial sciences - Astra Zeneca, GSK and Pfizer Inc;
- Nuclear - EDF Energy, Magnox Ltd and Sellafield;
- Power engineering - Amey, Siemens and SSE;
- Public relations - Claremont, Golin and KOR Communications Ltd;
- Surveying - Axis, EC Harris and Faithorn Farrell Timms.
For a full list of employers and higher education institutions currently involved in degree apprenticeships, visit GOV.UK.
How much will it cost?
As with other apprenticeships, you won't pay training costs or student fees. Under the current funding model, two-thirds of the costs and fees (including external training and assessment) are contributed by the government, up to a capped amount of £18,000 per person. The remaining third is covered by the employer.
You'll obviously have to cover your living costs, but you'll receive an apprentice minimum wage - meaning that you could earn up to £500 every week. Degree apprentices aren't eligible for student loans.
Will I be guaranteed a job?
No, but even if you aren't offered a permanent role you'll be an employable graduate. You'll have benefited from studying a course that's tailored to industry needs, plus amassed several years of highly relevant work experience. This means you'll have gained critical skills that are valued by employers in your chosen career.
If you already have a job your employer may pay for your degree apprenticeship. You will need to approach them explaining your reasons for wanting to do it and how it will benefit the company.
How do I apply?
You can search and apply for degree apprenticeships by visiting employer websites, and through:
Some employers may even advertise vacancies via their partner universities. Learn more about applying for an apprenticeship.