What are Degree Apprenticeships?
Degree Apprenticeships were launched by the UK Government in an attempt to bring together the very best of higher and vocational education in order to address the skills and productivity challenges that have plagued the UK economy for the last 20-30 years.
Degree Apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace, and are employed throughout – gaining a full bachelor’s or master’s degree while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession. Degree Apprentices do not pay tuition fees as these are covered by their sponsoring employer. In return, employers are able to upskill/ employ new staff to address skills gaps within their organisation and utilise funds from their Apprenticeship Levy account.
Degree apprenticeships are currently only available in England, although there are plans to extend to other parts of the UK in the near future.
How are they funded?
For employers with an annual PAYE bill of £3m or more, Degree Apprentices can be funded through their monthly Apprenticeship Levy payment. For smaller employers who do not attract the Apprenticeship Levy, the cost of course fees is shared between government (90%) and employers (10%). Further information on the mechanics of the Apprenticeship Levy can be found on our Apprenticeship Levy Explained page.
How does it work?
Degree Apprentices must be employed for a minimum of 30 hours a week and spend a minimum of 20% of their time in off-the-job training. This 20% component can be satisfied through a variety of delivery models such as day or block release (i.e. attending lectures, seminars and lab sessions on campus) or through distance learning on a virtual learning environment.
What Degree Apprenticeships are available?
To view further information on programmes that Queen Mary University of London offers, please visit our Degree Apprenticeships Programmes page.
What are the pro’s and con’s compared to traditional study
Graduate level employers place a premium on practical experience in the workplace. Not only do Degree Apprentices gain up to 4 years work-experience alongside their full undergraduate or postgraduate degree, but in most cases they will have a guaranteed job at the end of their apprenticeship.
Whereas traditional undergraduate students will leave university with an excess of £40k of debt, as a Degree Apprentice, tuition fees are paid for by the sponsoring employer. Degree Apprentices also earn a competitive salary whilst they learn.
Data published recently by the UK Government showed that after finishing their apprenticeship, 77% of apprentices stay with the same employer, 46% received a pay rise, and 36% reported getting a promotion. This is in addition to the graduate premium of £100,000+ lifetime comparative earnings against those without a degree.
Missing out on the full university experience
As a part-time student you will not qualify for on-campus accommodation or have as much time as traditional entry students to engage in social activities. That said, Degree Apprentices still have access to all of the services and facilities which our traditional entry students enjoy e.g. Qmotion gym, Drapers Students Union bar and membership of societies etc.
Managing both work and study
Studying for a undergraduate/ postgraduate qualification can be difficult enough without having to balance work/ study priorities at the same time. Some students thrive under such pressure whereas others might feel overwhelmed. Queen Mary has a robust and extensive network of student support services to ensure students have the assistance they require throughout their studies.
Where traditional entry students have reading weeks and a long break over the summer holidays, Degree Apprentices work all year round. Degree Apprentices are entitled to statutory holiday of 28 days with most employers also allowing a certain amount of study leave in order to prepare for exams.