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What Are Degree Apprenticeships? A New Form of Higher Education

20th February 2017 Posted by: Cristina Radulescu

THE traditional route of higher education is not for everybody. This is not a criticism on people’s intellectual abilities or their ambition, but rather on the fact that for a very long time, academia has been very set in its ways and has only allowed room for marginal variation.

Luckily, the need for change has been acknowledged and steps were taken to improve the choices available. A new option that has surfaced recently in the UK is that of degree apprenticeships. Launched in 2015, it swiftly became the go-to option for school-leavers who were looking beyond a traditional university degree. If you think that a balanced combination between theoretical academia and professional experience is best for you, here are some pre-emptive answers to questions you might have before delving into degree apprenticeships.

What do they entail?

Degree apprenticeships are unique in that they guarantee to provide both the theoretical background normally associated with an academic degree, as well as relevant workplace experience.

You may wonder, how is this different from taking a work placement during university? The answer is in its distribution. A work placement will usually comprise of a year in your field of choice between your second and third years of study, rendering the entire experience as rather disjointed. An apprentice degree placement will guarantee an even distribution of theoretical study and work experience over an overall period of 3 to 6 years (depending on the area of study). This arrangement appears lengthier at first sight, but in reality, it amounts to the same amount of time necessary for students to obtain their graduate Bachelor or Masters degrees and getting the appropriate entry-level work experience afterwards.

What are the areas of expertise?

There is a wide range of areas available – usually those that entail a specific set of practical skills. Because this is a fairly novel route, at the moment there is a limited number of areas available, but new additions are likely to be made soon. Here are a few of the current options:

  • Chartered Surveying
  • Electronic Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Aerospace Software Development
  • Defence Systems Engineering
  • Laboratory Science
  • Nuclear Science
  • Power Systems
  • Public Relations
  • Digital and Technological Solutions
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Banking Relationship Manager
  • Construction

What is the cost?

The costs of the degree are split between Government Sponsorships and the employers who offer the work experience as part of the degree. That means that students don’t have to pay anything while they are studying. In fact, most work experience opportunities offer students a salary – a fantastic way of gaining financial independence from your family early on! Although a degree apprenticeship is arguably more complex than a regular Bachelor or Master degree, the costs for prospective students could be considerably less.

What is the admissions process like?

The application process does not substantially differ from that of traditional university degrees, as all prospective students must register through UCAS. Additionally, students will be asked to provide extra information for their work placement employees. However, the admission process for that is normally collated with that from the Universities, for the sake of efficiency.

Where can I learn more?

These are the basics you should know if you are considering pursuing an apprenticeship degree. There are plenty of specialised websites that offer details about this sort of degree and what options are available to students after they graduate.

All in all, this is a fantastic opportunity to have a bespoke education that equips you with the highest quality academic background, as well as the best skill set necessary for your life post-graduation. If your aim is to achieve the perfect work-life-study balance, then this is most certainly a good route for you.

Good luck! 


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