What are Degree Apprenticeships?

Degree Apprenticeships are a new education route bringing together university study and the invaluable on-the-job training typical of an apprenticeship.

Degree Apprenticeship programmes are co-designed by employers and universities to ensure theat apprentices graduate with the career-boosting practical skills and academic knowledge their industry needs.

On these pages you will find answers to the following questions:

  • What are Degree Apprenticeship and how do they work?
  • What are the different models of Degree Apprenticeships?
  • Why is the University developng Degree Apprenticeships?
  • What are the advantages to employers?
  • Who can help me understand and develop a DA?

10 Things To Know about Degree Apprenticeships

The Government has recently reformed how Apprenticeships are funded and regulated

Since April 2017, all companies with an annual pay bill of £3 million or more are required pay the apprenticeship levy, which is currently set at 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill. The only means for employers to get a return on this levy is to use it to fund apprenticeships for new and existing employees. If they do not use the full amount of their levy, they cannot get the money back.

Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers

Despite the old connotations that the term ‘apprenticeship’ evokes, anyone of any age can complete an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships span from Level 2 to Level 7, and have equivalence to the following educational levels:

Name

Level

Equivalent Educational Level

Intermediate

2

GCSEs

Advanced

3

A Levels

Higher

4, 5, 6 and 7

Foundation Degree or above

Degree

6 and 7

Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree

As such, apprentices with level 3 equivalent qualifications are eligible for a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship, and experienced employees or those with level 6 equivalent qualifications are eligible for Level 7 Degree Apprenticeships. The entry requirements for each apprenticeship are agreed upon between the employer and education provider. Level 6 and 7 Degree Apprenticeships are subject to the QAA’s quality assurance audit processes (anything below this level is quality assured by Ofsted) and as such the University has made the decision not to deliver programmes below Level 6.

Degree Apprenticeships combine work, on-the-job learning and University study

Apprenticeships must last a minimum of 12 months and at least 20% of an apprentice’s contracted working hours must be spent on off-the-job training. In the case of a Degree Apprenticeship, this off-the-job training would constitute the time spent studying towards the accompanying degree. This can include, but is not limited to, lectures, seminars and online- or distance-learning. Upon successful completion of an apprenticeship, apprentices are guaranteed a job with their employer in the role for which they has been trained through the apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship Standards detail the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for a particular job

These standards are developed by ‘trailblazer’ groups of employers who determine these KSBs and the curriculum needed to develop them. Education and training providers are not allowed to be part of these trailblazer groups, although they can be consulted as the standards are developed to ensure they are realistically deliverable. Any Degree Apprenticeship programme developed by the University must prove that they will deliver the KSBs set out in the relevant standard.

Flexible modes of delivery are strongly encouraged

Training can be delivered through a blend of online and face-to-face sessions (although they must not be 100% online), and they can be studied full or part time. For example, the Degree Apprenticeship in Computer Science the University is launching in partnership with PwC in September 2018 will take the model of a standard sandwich course degree over 4 years, where the student studies full time at university in years 1, 2 and 4, and spends year 3 and the summers in between working full time at PwC. However, it is worth noting that this is a relatively unusual model for Degree Apprenticeships, and it will be more common for them to be delivered part-time and/or with a blended delivery approach. The mode of delivery is for the employer and the education provider to agree between themselves.

Apprenticeships are awarded upon successful completion of an end-point assessment (EPA)

For integrated Degree Apprenticeships, the end point assessment for the apprenticeship coincides with the completion of the degree programme, for example passing final examinations and a project or dissertation, and no further assessment is required. However, for non-integrated Degree Apprenticeships (which are the preferred model of the IfA), the apprentice must complete an additional end point assessment after the completion of the degree programme. This end point assessment is usually in the form of a presentation of a portfolio of work followed by a panel interview and viva.

In the case of non-integrated apprenticeships, the education provider CANNOT be the lead end point assessor of the apprenticeship – this role must be filled by a third party from the Register of End Point Assessment Organisations and they are chosen by the employer. The panel for the EPA is chaired by the lead end point assessor, and usually includes a representative from the employer and the education provider. Whether a Degree Apprenticeship is integrated or non-integrated is stipulated in the assessment plan which accompanies the apprenticeship standard.

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) is the regulatory body for apprenticeships

They support employers in the development of standards and are responsible for approving apprenticeship standards and assessment plans and setting the funding cap for each standard. They then publish these on the gov.uk website which is regularly updated as new standards are approved. 

Each standard is set a funding cap by the Institute for Apprenticeships

This funding cap stipulates the maximum amount of levy money the government is willing to pay for the delivery of that standard. For example, a 3 year level 6 Degree Apprenticeship standard might be set a funding cap of £27,000, making it broadly equivalent to the cost of a standard 3 year degree.

Tuition fees are completely covered by employers and apprentices also receive a salary

This salary must be at least in line with the national minimum wage for apprentices. The funding cap is intended to represent the realistic cost of delivering and assessing the training required to meet the standard and nothing else; it cannot be used to cover the cost of the apprentice’s salary – the employer must fund this separately. The cost of each Degree Apprenticeship is agreed between the training provider (i.e. the University) and the employer. The government will cover this cost out of the employer’s levy money, up to the funding cap. Any cost of training above the funding cap must be taken on by the employer. 

Levy funding is paid out to the education provider in equal instalments

The University receives 80% the agreed cost of the Degree Apprenticeship in equal monthly instalments from the start of the apprenticeship, and the remaining 20% upon the apprentice’s completion of the end point assessment. The funding is paid by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), who monitor the data returns we submit about the apprentices enrolled onto the Degree Apprenticeship and ensure the correct funding amount is administered.