The UK's First Ever Degree Apprentices have Graduated!

In a momentous occasion, the UK’s first ever degree apprentices have graduated from Aston University in Birmingham. Breaking into new ground, Aston University recently became the first higher education institution ever in the country to offer degree apprenticeship programmes, striking out of the traditional set-up to offer a degree with a difference. Amidst a sliding standard of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills in the UK’s industry skillset, Aston’s initiative to create the innovative new degree programme has revolutionized the way young people can develop high level skills during a degree. That the first students have successfully graduated with such a commendable degree and skillset only further anchors the potential that this exciting new opportunity has to offer young people.  

Being enabled to earn, learn and work all at the same time, the programme’s popularity is taking off with a bang. The first cohort ever to achieve this specialist type of degree, 64% of the students have been awarded with a 1st class honours BSc, with most others gaining a 2:1 respectively. Also graced with no government debt, and with tuition fees funded by the employer, it is easy to see why the graduates were exuding such elation upon their graduation. Euphoric, graduate James Jones explained “I’ve gained the salary of a graduate years before I would have graduated taking a traditional bricks and mortar degree. I haven’t paid tuition fees but have been paid a salary to attend virtual lectures and tutorials and apply this learning instantly to my role as a software developer”. Exhibiting such a stimulating type of course with countless benefits, and the guarantee of secure and reputable employment afterwards, this innovation of a degree programme should most definitely be snapped up by those interested in the relevant subject areas.

Developed in a special agreement between the government, the employer and Aston University, the work-based degree programme is a tech-based partnership enabling youngsters to obtain a degree whilst simultaneously enjoying paid employment. Designed to propel the skillset and workforce of the technological and digital industries, the programme carries hopes to plug the gap in the ever-decreasing digital skills standards. Creating accessible pathways to respectable employment for young people of all backgrounds, the inspiration and unlocked potential of students produced by the programme has been seen as an incredulous milestone for the dilapidating industry. 

With endless rewards for your efforts, it follows that in the past couple of years the programme has seen vastly expanding popularity. Top universities such as Warwick, Durham and Exeter signing up to offer similar opportunities signals the mounting repute and accolade a degree of this type would award you with. Pushing focus to create over three million quality apprenticeships with a degree programme attached by 2020, the pioneering programme wants to move into higher levels, more occupations and sectors as soon as possible. With a buzz circulating about the exciting prospects the programme bears, it wants to develop in areas such as Chartered Surveying, Nuclear Science, Aerospace Engineering and Defence Systems Engineering imminently. 

Minister for Apprenticeship Skills, Anne Milton, has emphasized the wow-factor of value in the fact that the “academic achievement is recognised as being at the same high level as a traditionally-earned degree”. Simply having a difference in the delivery, this new innovation of a degree programme is least to say an advantageous option to applicants whose learning style is less suited to a traditional study route, with surplus rewards reaped by those ambitious enough to partake. Certainly, the high level of credibility (that the first ever graduates are embarking on employment with) is a worthy landmark for youngsters and the digital industry alike. 

- By Emily Kong 

Wed 19 Jul 2017