Coming Soon: Degree Apprenticeships

Combining the best of Higher Education with Apprenticeships

Combining the best of Higher Education with Apprenticeships

What are they?

Degree Apprenticeships are a model bringing together the best of higher and vocational education, and see apprentices achieving a full bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship. These involve employers, universities, and professional bodies working in partnership. Apprentices are employed throughout, and spend part of their time at university and part with their employer; employers and universities will have flexibility to decide how best to structure this, e.g. via day release or block release.

Apprentices will complete a rigorous end assessment which tests both the wider occupational competence and academic learning required for success in that profession, in this case incorporating a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This degree programme can be structured in one of two ways:

  • Employers, universities and professional bodies can come together to co-design a fully-integrated degree course specifically for apprentices, which delivers and tests both academic learning and on-the-job training. We think this will be the preferred approach for many sectors, as the learning is seamless and it does not require a separate assessment of occupational competence.
  • Alternatively, sectors may wish to use existing degree programmes to deliver the academic knowledge requirements of that profession, combine this with additional training to meet the full apprenticeship training requirements, and have a separate test of full occupational competence at the end of the apprenticeship (e.g. delivered by a relevant professional body).

In either case, degrees earned via this route will be awarded by world-class universities so will be held in equal esteem as degrees undertaken via the full-time traditional undergraduate route.

What are the benefits of Degree Apprenticeships?

This model has a number of advantages for employers, prospective apprentices, and universities:

  • Employers can attract new talent, particularly high calibre school-leavers, who are keen to earn a degree in a work-based environment. It will allow them to acquire the graduate/post-graduate level skills they need, where the training costs, including the degree, are co-funded by Government
  • The apprentice, like any other apprentice, must be employed and paid a wage throughout, will gain a full degree (bachelor’s or master’s) without incurring student fees or taking on a loan, and gain a head-start into their chosen profession compared with many of their counterparts – a highly attractive offer
  • Universities can strengthen links with local employers and offer more degree programmes that meet employer needs and are accredited by professional bodies, while also having a new product to offer to prospective applicants (possibly from more diverse backgrounds than their full-time intake). 

How do they differ from sandwich degrees and work placements?

These build on the existing models of sandwich degrees (with students spending a year in industry) or work placements (with students doing industry placements in term time or holidays), but are different in several important ways:

  • Degree Apprentices are employed throughout and doing paid work from day one; and indeed employers may view them as a way of recruiting top prospective graduates
  • Degree Apprentices are likely to have greater attachment to their employer and indeed already being employed are much more likely to stay on afterwards. Retention rates for apprentices post-completion typically exceed 80%
  • In cases where a new degree is developed, employers will be able to work with universities to shape the overall degree programme and all aspects of the apprentice’s training. 

The University of Derby is currently working with an employer consortium in the construction sector, led by Balfour Beatty looking at new Apprenticeship standards. The consortium includes more than 15 employers, the five main built environment professional bodies (CIAT, CIBSE, CIOB, ICE and RICS), a range of trade bodies (B&ES, CECA, FMB and UKCG) and the Construction Heads of the Built Environment (CHOBE).  

These Standards – at Levels 4 and 6 – are designed to create highly skilled employees who can contribute to the success of complex construction projects by demonstrating skills, knowledge and behaviours in key aspects of project control and management in both common and specific areas.

They cover the following occupations at Levels 4 and 6:

  • Building Services Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Construction Supervision/Management (and Planning)
  • Design Co-ordination/Management
  • Quantity Surveying (and Estimating)

The University is keen to work with employers in this sector who may be interested in degree apprenticeships. If you would like to get involved or want further information on developments then please contact Jane Lowe on 01332 593673 or email J.Lowe@derby.ac.uk