Degree Apprenticeship or University Degree?

What is the difference between doing a Degree Apprenticeship or going to University? What should you expect and why would you choose one over the other?

Degree Apprenticeships are being developed by companies in partnership with universities to deliver employment ready graduates. Degree Apprenticeships still lead to a degree level qualification, from an accredited university, but it is undertaken alongside employment. You will be employed by a company and you will be paid for it. The company will also cover your tuition fees at university. You will typically work four days a week and attend university one day a week or it may be that you do three months full time at work and then a month full time at university.

Each degree apprenticeship will be structured differently as they have been developed with the companies’ requirements in mind. This means that the qualification you get will still be a degree (BA or BSc) but your training overall will have a more vocational or practical nature. When you have finished, you will be familiar with all the practical and academic elements of the job as you will already have been doing it for three years or longer.

Is a university degree better than a degree apprenticeship?
The answer to this question is that it depends on your reason for studying and what you want to study. At the moment there are not degree apprenticeships available for all subjects and those that are available are vocational in nature. You cannot do a degree apprenticeship in Humanities or Languages for example, but you can do them in Digital Technologies or Engineering. That is not to say that these types of degree apprenticeships might not come along in the future, of course.

The degree you finish with from a degree apprenticeship will be as valued as any other. It will be awarded by an accredited university and will be an Honours Degree.

Will I miss out on university life by doing a degree apprenticeship?
Doing a degree apprenticeship will mean that you won’t experience university life in the same way as your friends who are attending university full time. However, you may still need to live away from home and you will be with other people doing the same training and studying as you, so although it might be a different experience to other students, you could still experience living away from home with other like-minded people. You will of course also attend lectures on campus during your studies. Many of the companies that are offering degree apprenticeships will provide social and welfare support for any apprentices who are living away from home for the first time, so it won’t be like going out completely on your own.

Will I be more employable with a degree apprenticeship or a university degree?
Whilst it is not guaranteed that your employer will offer you a permanent job at the end of a degree apprenticeship, you are far more likely to be a suitable employee for them as you have been trained exactly how they want.

Having a university degree does make you highly employable but typically a university degree is less vocational in nature and most new graduates who have been to university will still require job specific training.

How much will it cost to do a degree apprenticeship vs a university degree?
If you are concerned about the cost of going to university and there is a degree apprenticeship in your field of study, then degree apprenticeships have a definite advantage over a university degree with regards to costs. If you are doing a degree apprenticeship, not only will you be paid by your employer but they will also cover the tuition fee costs, so you will effectively be getting your degree for free.

If there is no degree apprenticeship in your field of study or you still want to experience university life, then there are still alternative ways of reducing the cost of going to university, through scholarships, grants and bursaries. However, you are unlikely to be able to cover the full costs in this way.

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