What are degree level apprenticeships and what's driving their growth in popularity?

Updated: Apr 6



Launched in the UK in 2015, degree apprenticeships combine going to university with getting hands on experience while employed and being paid - and they are growing in popularity. But what's driving the growth?


There are a number of reasons but we think the main ones are these:


Employers who pay 0.5% of their wage bill to the apprenticeship levy, are switching to degree apprenticeships in an effort to spend levy pot funds and save money on their HR / training budgets. For these employers, it makes little sense to pay for training from an additional training budget if there are unused funds, languishing in their levy pot, particularly given that they will expire after 24 months under current rules! The motivation for the employer is to use the apprenticeship levy to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment, or risk losing it. Whilst there has been some criticism levelled at employers for rebadging non-apprenticeship training for existing staff as a means to access levy pot funds (often to the detriment of young / new apprentices leaving school or college), others argue why shouldn't employers be able to use their own funds in this way?


On 02 March 2020, Fraser Whieldon in FE Week reported that Emma Hardy, shadow skills minister said at FE Week's Sixth Annual Apprenticeships Conference that degree apprenticeships should only be fully-funded for people aged under 25, those without a first degree and in sectors where there are skill shortages.


Employers should be aware however, that unlike with some other training arrangements, an apprentice who leaves employment cannot be asked to pay back any money for their training or assessment costs associated with an apprenticeship.


Check out the Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers here.


Young people considering their next steps after leaving 6th form or college are looking for ways they can still get a degree without leaving university saddled with the debt associated with this. Degree apprenticeships offer exactly that - the opportunity to attend university (often on day release or block release) and get the qualification they want whilst being paid to work and gain experience.


National coverage of the skills shortage, and competitions like WorldSkills UK by household names like Steph McGovern have raised the profile of apprenticeships and vocational training. I'm still surprised though, by the lack of awareness among young people and their parents who are making / supporting post 16 choices, of things like apprenticeships and T-Levels which suggests that still not enough information is filtering down and reaching those who are making choices about their future.


Lastly, we believe the drive in growth has also come from the universities themselves. Queen Mary University London was the first Russell Group university to offer degree apprenticeships in 2015 and today, around 115 universities have embraced the opportunity to deliver these vocational degrees, listed as approved on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (although not all are currently delivering apprenticeship programmes).

Research by Universities UK (2016) highlighted that: degree apprenticeships would provide universities with a new income stream; would be attractive to non-traditional students; would facilitate closer relationships with employers; and improve employability among graduates. It's no surprise then, that more and more universities are offering apprenticeships in a wide variety of subjects.


But are universities equipped to deliver apprenticeships?


Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow and former skills minister and chair of the education select committee, believes degree apprenticeships are "a crucial step on the road to delivering social justice and boosting Britain's productivity".


But apprenticeship delivery is complex and the administrative burden both a distraction and a cost. Universities UK (2016) notes that "administrative procedures have proved bureaucratic and burdensome" for universities and "there remain many uncertainties around quality assurance and providing data returns".


New provider monitoring visits conducted by Ofsted have highlighted a number of issues with new providers to the sector.


So what can universities do to ease the administrative burden and deliver programmes in line with regulation, that are fit for purpose and remain compliant all at the same time?


If you are a university, currently delivering or considering delivering apprenticeships, get in touch with us to find out how Rubitek Core can ease the administrative burden and support you as you embark on your apprenticeship delivery journey.


There are now more than 90 degree level apprenticeships being delivered:


Academic professional (Level 7)

Advanced clinical practitioner (Level 7)

Aerospace engineer (Level 6)

Aerospace software development engineer (Level 6)

Architect apprenticeship (Level 7)

Architectural assistant apprenticeship (Level 6)

Arts therapist (Level 7)

Assistant buyer / Assistant merchandiser (Level 6)

Bioinformatics scientist (Level 7)

Broadcast and media systems engineer (Level 6)

Building control surveyor (Level 6)

Building services design engineer (Level 6)

Building services engineering site management (Level 6)

Business to business sales professional (Level 6)

Chartered manager (Level 6)

Chartered surveyor (Level 6)

Chartered town planner apprenticeship (Level 7)

Church minister apprenticeship (Level 6)

Civil engineer apprenticeship (Level 6)

Civil engineering site management (Level 6)

Clinical trials specialist apprenticeship (Level 6)

Construction quantity surveyor (Level 6)

Construction site management (Level 6)

Control / technical support engineer (Level 6)

Creative industries production manager (Level 7)

Cultural heritage conservator (Level 7)

Cyber security technical professional (Level 6)

Data scientist (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Design and construction management (Level 6)

Diagnostic radiographer (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Dietitian apprenticeship (Level 6)

Digital and technology solutions specialist (integrated degree)

Digital and technology solutions professional (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Digital user experience (UX) professional (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Digital marketer (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Embedded electronic systems design and development engineer (Level 6)

Environmental health practitioner (Level 6)

Express delivery manager (Level 6)

Ecologist apprenticeship (Level 7)

Electrical / electronic technical support engineer (Level 6)

Food and drink advanced engineer (Level 6)

Food industry technical professional (Level 6)

Geospatial mapping and science specialist (Level 6)

Healthcare science practitioner (Level 6)

Laboratory scientist (Level 6)

Manufacturing engineer (Level 6)

Manufacturing manager (Level 6)

Marine surveyor (Level 6)

Marine technical superintendent apprenticeship (Level 7)

Materials process engineer (Level 7)

Materials science technologist (Level 6)

Midwife (Level 6)

Non-destructive testing engineer (Level 6)

Nuclear scientist and nuclear engineer (Level 6)

Occupational therapist (Level 6)

Operating department practitioner (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Ordnance munitions and explosives (OME) professional (Level 6)

Outside broadcasting engineer (Level 7)

Packaging professional (Level 6)

Paramedic apprenticeship (Level 6)

Physician associate apprenticeship (Level 7)

Physiotherapist (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Podiatrist apprenticeship (Level 6)

Police constable apprenticeship (Level 6)

Post graduate engineer (Level 7)

Power engineer (Level 7)

Process automation engineer (Level 7)

Product design and development engineer (Level 6)

Professional economist apprenticeship (Level 6)

Project manager (Level 6)

Prosthetist / orthotist apprenticeship (Level 6)

Public health practitioner (Level 6)

Rail and rail systems senior engineer (Level 6)

Rail and rail systems principal engineer (Level 7)

Registered nurse (NMC 2010) (Level 6)

Registered nurse (NMC 2018) (Level 6)

Regulatory affairs specialist apprenticeship (Level 7)

Retail leadership apprenticeship (Level 6)

Risk and safety management professional (Level 7)

Science industry process / plant engineer (Level 6)

Senior / head of facilities management (Level 6)

Senior leader (Level 7)

Social worker apprenticeship (Level 6)

Sonographer apprenticeship (Level 6)

Speech and language therapist (Level 6)

Supply chain leadership professional (Level 6)

Systems engineer (Level 7)

Therapeutic radiographer (integrated degree) (Level 6)

Through life engineering services specialist (Level 7)

Transport planner (Level 6)


This list was last updated on 4 March 2020. For the latest on degree apprenticeships approved for delivery go to https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/?keywords=degree&levelFrom=6&includeApprovedForDelivery=true


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