Degree apprenticeships

Are Degree Apprenticeships a modern choice for students?

Degree apprenticeships continue to rise in popularity and appeal across all industry sectors. With the ongoing cost of living crisis and the demand for more vocational subjects and opportunities, completing a degree apprenticeship allows students access to higher education and qualifications alongside potential for a position and career advancement without the need to take out a loan for tuition fees.


Degree apprenticeships were introduced in 2015 as part of the government’s apprenticeship reforms to focus on areas where higher-level skills were particularly in demand.  Apprentices can achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship which may include a work-based, academic or combined qualification or a professional qualification relevant to the industry.  The programmes are developed in partnership by employers, professional bodies and the University, and the degree apprentices combine working with studying part time with the University. Teaching for these programmes is a hybrid of both online and in person study with a strong focus on work-based learning.

Applying for a Degree Apprenticeship

Employers advertise degree apprenticeships throughout the year rather than following the traditional university application cycle and applicants apply for degree apprenticeships in the same way they would apply for a normal job with a CV and cover letter.  In addition to their regular university places, UCAS lists a number of opportunities on their website for a range of sectors including Business, Management, Finance, Marketing and IT.  Applicants will need to do their research as apprenticeships are not all listed in one place.


Opportunities for degree apprenticeships, although structured in a similar vein, are varied in their offering from salary to professional qualifications offered.  UCAS provides initial details on their website, but significant research and comparison of opportunities should be encouraged to establish both the level of support, course details, outcome and career pathway the position will prepare apprentices for.  At the University of Exeter, our courses are delivered either 100% online or as a mix of online and campus and cover a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.  We foster strong links with our chosen employer partnerships to ensure students are supported in both the workplace and the university environments. 

Pros and cons

Moving into higher education is a challenging step for all students and a traditional university degree or apprenticeship may be the right path to follow for some.  For those looking at a vocational degree, a degree apprenticeship is certainly worth investigating.  On the plus side, apprentices get real life experience alongside their degree, their fees are fully paid for and they’ll receive a salary just like a normal employee.  But, getting the balance right between working and studying at the same time is challenging, they won’t qualify for a student loan and it may not be the traditional ‘university experience’ they want.

Useful links

> Degree Apprenticeships - University of Exeter
> Degree jobs (
> Higher and degree apprenticeships - GOV.UK (
> Advancing Access resource - Degree Apprenticeships at Russell Group universities


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