University Tips Blog
Image of a student speaking to an employer whilst on a degree apprenticeship
A headshot image of the author, Clare Middleton

by Clare Middleton

Degree Apprenticeship Manager at the University of Portsmouth

posted on 27 Feb '23

A guide to university degree apprenticeships

With most universities now offering degree apprenticeships, there is an even bigger choice for young people when they are deciding which route to take post-18.

Degree apprenticeships are a rapidly growing concept that many people agree is the ideal way to gain work-based experience as well as a degree. Apprentices typically come from school or college with A-levels or equivalent, and work full time 4 days a week, coming to university 1 day a week, with programme duration varying from 2-5 years depending on the subject.

In many cases, apprentices gain chartered status and professional recognition during their programme, which can make them better qualified than full-time graduates. The other compelling benefit is that the employer pays all the course fees, so there is no cost to the individual.

The student benefits

Subjects cover a wide range of professions, ranging from an architect to civil engineer, nursing associate to police constable, there is even a route to becoming a doctor via degree apprenticeships now and the subjects are forever growing.

Salaries are generally much better than lower- level apprenticeships, with degree apprentices often receiving pay rises incrementally and when they pass their final assessments.

Apprentices also receive all the same benefits as other students, from student discounts to access to sports facilities, study and student support services and wellbeing initiatives. In some cases, they can also access university accommodation and live on campus.

Image of a keyboard, with a degree hat and admission written on it

How to apply and find out more

The national apprenticeship service is the best place for students to search for vacancies in their local area and they can search by employer, level or subject. They can even set up alerts to be notified when vacancies arise.

The application process is as it would be when applying for a job, it is very competitive and there is stiff competition for each role. Many employers use assessment days to help them select the right candidates for the role, which can include team-building activities, scenario- based assessments and personality profiling.

Currently, there is much higher demand than supply, so it is recommended that students apply for university through UCAS at the same time, so they have options in case they were unsuccessful.

Whilst a degree apprentice may not get 100% of the university experience as they are working and studying 5 days a week; they graduate with no debt, proven work experience and can remain in a job related to their degree, so are likely to see their career progress faster than a traditional graduate.

However, a degree apprenticeship is not for everyone, students need to be sure of the profession they want to go into from the beginning and will need a lot of self-motivation, drive and initiative.

Prefer to listen?

Check out Episode 11 of The Uni Guide podcast. A degree apprenticeships special!

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