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Degree Apprenticeships Explained

Degree apprenticeships combine the best of both words and let apprentices earn a university degree alongside studying.

What are they?

Degree apprenticeships allow apprentices to gain a degree alongside working full time, they take between 3 and 6 years to complete. They are especially helpful if you’re stuck choosing between an apprenticeship and going to university as they combine the best of both worlds.

There are two levels of degree apprenticeships:

  • A Level 6 apprenticeship qualifies you with a full Bachelor’s degree
  • A Level 7 apprenticeship qualifies you with a Masters degree

How do they work?

Apprentices work fulltime throughout the year, with 21 days paid holiday plus bank holidays off. They split their time between their employer and part time university work. The university work could be through studying at university one day a week, online learning, blended learning, or a block of days each month.

At the end of the program apprentices complete an assessment which tests academic learning and knowledge learnt through on-the-job training. Degree apprenticeships are just as challenging as traditional degrees with the added element of working full time. Apprentices are awarded a degree by a university, this is the equivalent of a degree undertaken through a full-time undergraduate route.

The cost of studying is co-funded by the employer and the government, meaning apprentices leave their apprenticeship debt free!

How much do they pay?

Salary varies depending on the company, sector, location, and the age of the apprenticeship. The UK Apprentice minimum wage for apprentices is £3.90 an hour, with some companies paying more than double that amount, for example Jaguar Land Rover’s Engineering apprentices have a starting salary of £18,500 a year! Degree level apprentices tend to get paid more than other apprentices and have the added benefit of leaving their apprenticeship with a degree without the debt - this is incredible, especially considering that the average student graduates with debt of over £50,000! (Institute of Fiscal Studies, 2017).

What areas can you do the degree in?

Degree apprenticeship fields are narrower than traditional apprenticeships and are only available in areas that require ‘high levels of academia’, see below for a list of some of the industries you can do a degree apprenticeship in. Apprenticeships are available at a wide variety companies including big names such Morrisons, BBC, Sky, and Unilever and are also offered by smaller companies.

Areas include:

  • Business management and administration
  • Childcare and education
  • Construction
  • Creative and design
  • Defence
  • Digital
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Health and science
  • Legal, finance, and accounting
  • Protective services (e.g. police)
  • Public relations

What university do you get the degree from?

The university depends on which sector you’re working in and which degree apprenticeship you’re completing. You can undertake your degree with Russell Group, red brick, and modern universities. Quite often you won’t be studying at the actual university due to distance, with classes being held online or at an institution close to where you work, but the degree will be awarded by them.

Who can do them?

Degree apprenticeships tend to be targeted at 18-19-year-old school leavers or lower level apprentices who are moving up to the next level of apprenticeship. If you already have a degree you can enrol onto some degree apprenticeships, as long as your degree is in a different field to the one you’re applying to. See below for information about entry requirements – one key thing employers look for is a genuine desire to learn!

What are the entry requirements?

Degree apprenticeships are highly competitive with demand outweighing supply. The majority of employers will ask for formal qualifications including at least 5 GCSEs (A*-C or 9-4), and Level 3 apprenticeship qualifications including BTECs. Often employers will expect applicants to have qualifications relevant to the apprenticeship already. Employers will be looking for students with the top grades and a passion for the subject.

Where can you find out more information?

Head on over to the Gov UK website to find out more about the legalities and facts of degree apprenticeships. You can use Apprenticeship Finder’s search tool to search for apprenticeship vacancies to get a better idea of what types of apprenticeships you can apply for. You can also read articles written by apprentices on Apprenticeship Finder’s blog, and on Rate My Apprenticeship's website.

Posted in Advice on Mar 16, 2020 by

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