Degree apprenticeships - what are they?

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Whatever A-level results you get, you may still be asking yourself if university is the right option for you. If so, have you considered doing a degree apprenticeship as an alternative to university? 

What is a degree apprenticeship?

A degree apprenticeship combines on the job training with university level study, so you earn while you learn.
Degree apprenticeships are developed by employers in partnership with universities. The aim of these programmes is to deliver employment ready graduates, who have the specific skills, knowledge and experience needed by employers within particular industries.

If you have a career in mind and know what you want to do, it can be great way to get your degree but also graduate with 3 years work experience and no debt. You will be employed throughout the programme, spending around 80% of your time on the job and 20% studying at university. This does mean that it may take longer than usual to complete your degree (three to six years).

Degree apprenticeships will not be right for everyone, particularly if you have a burning desire to study something purely academic, like History or languages, but for some, it could provide a clear pathway to achieving your career ambitions.

Advantages of Degree Apprenticeships

The advantages of studying for your chosen career via a degree apprenticeship are

  • You will be paid by your employer while you train – the salary you will receive varies but it will be at least minimum wage and sometimes more.
  • Your employer will also pay your tuition fees, so you will graduate debt free
  • Your chances of being offered a permanent job on graduation by your employer are high – after all they’ve invested a lot of time and money in your training and moulded you to their requirements, so why wouldn’t they?
  • You will still get your degree or in some cases a postgraduate qualification

Disadvantages of Degree Apprenticeships

  • Your university experience will not by typical of other students – you will not be living on campus and will only attend part time.
  • You will be working up to 30 hours a week and will also have to study evenings and weekends. It is certainly not an easy option.

What can you study?

New degree apprenticeships are being created all the time, but current opportunities include a wide range of careers such as Nursing, IT and Technology, Law, Engineering, Banking, Business Management & Construction Management.
To find the full list and more information on each, see our complete guide to degree apprenticeships.

What grades do I need to do a degree apprenticeship?

The grades required vary depending on the employer. Typically they are looking for school leavers with A-levels but this is not always the case so check with the companies you are interested in for their individual requirements.

Can anyone do a degree apprenticeship?

As you will be employed and not just a student, you will need to be eligible to work in the UK. There are no age restrictions but the arrangements for funding are different. Training costs for apprentices aged 18 – 24 will be funded by the government. If you are aged 24 or over you may be asked to contribute towards the costs.

How do I apply?

Degree apprenticeships are advertised by the companies recruiting, in the same way a job would be. Companies could be recruiting for Degree Apprentices all year round but you may also find an increase in the number of vacancies advertised after A-level results. Each one has its own closing date and there is not an application cycle or process that is common to all. Degree Apprenticeships are advertised on the government website https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch 

Can I choose which university I study at?

Unfortunately not. Each company has set up a programme for the Degree Apprentices in conjunction with a partner university. Some companies may have more than one university, but generally you will be expected to study at the university your employer has partnered with to deliver the Degree apprenticeship.

Want to know more? Read our complete guide to degree apprenticeships

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