At the National Centre we have produced a Degree Apprenticeships Briefing, which provides a crucial knowledge tool for informing our university and business members, as well as wider audiences, about this developing degree structure.

Our Briefing covers what Degree Apprenticeships are, why they have been introduced, how they are organised, and the sectors and subjects where they are being developed.

We have produced this Briefing in partnership with the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), a body funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to provide support and advice on apprenticeships to universities and colleges.

About Degree Apprenticeships (DAs)
DAs are co-designed by employers and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The programmes involve a combination of vocational and higher education learning, in which both academic and occupational proficiencies are tested, and for which the attainment of a degree is an integral part of the course.

The government first announced DAs in March 2015, as a response to the skills gap and in order to push employers towards investing in the training and development of current or future employees. The first DA programmes began in September 2015, primarily in the digital sector.

What DAs offer is a chance for employers to be directly involved in apprenticeship design and content at an advanced level of learning, and to secure long-term solution to employer skills needs.

For HEIs, DAs provide another means for attracting students, including those that may find a pure academic route to learning less rewarding than gaining clear evidence of employability skills and a path to employment at the end of their course.

In providing a further access route to higher education, DAs have the potential to address HEI widening participation strategies, including entry among different student groups, retention rates, and student success at progressing onto employment.

For students, taking part in a DA means gaining vocational and degree training, whilst bypassing the burden of tuition fees and accumulated debt across the lifetime of their studies.

The growth of DAs
Government support for DAs is strong and high on the agenda. As the programme develops, and as the apprenticeship levy comes into play, both HEIs and employers are likely to expand their offers of schemes including DAs across different fields, representing a significant avenue for university-business collaboration.

For the higher education sector, interest in DAs is additionally growing as resourcing for engagement builds. The Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund, to be managed by HEFCE, will include finances of £8 million for the 2016-17 academic year, and will be used ‘to help universities and colleges work with employers to develop new degree apprenticeships ready for delivery from academic year 2017-18.

Briefings series at the National Centre
Our Degree Apprenticeships Briefing forms the first in our planned series of Briefings, each covering a separate topic, with our next looking at key findings from the Survey of Academics report.

For further information on NCUB work on Degree Apprenticeships and the Briefing please contact: Dr. Joan Wilson, Research Analyst: