Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister

More opportunities for degrees to be included in level 6 and 7 apprenticeships 

@IFATEched and @EducationGovUK have today (16 July) launched a consultation on proposals to improve how degree apprenticeships are developed, approved, and work in practice for employers and apprentices.

A key aim is to better capitalise on the prestige that degrees and graduate status carry with employers and the wider labour market, to ensure that level 6 and 7 apprenticeships better meet employers’ skills needs and support apprentices to progress in their careers.

The proposals would create more opportunities for degrees to be included in level 6 and 7 apprenticeships, where employers can demonstrate that graduate status is generally required for an individual to be employed in a particular occupation or sector.

Additionally, degree apprenticeships would only be approved where the end-point assessment (EPA) integrates with the final assessment of the degree. EPA would need to involve people with appropriate industry expertise. 

We would also ensure that degree apprenticeships are distinct from other higher education programmes and support further integration of on and off the job training, which is a key principle of all apprenticeships. The idea is to rule out degree apprenticeships that amount to no more than rebadging of existing full-time or part-time degree programmes.

Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, said:

“As we recover from the pandemic it is more important than ever that we support more people to get the skills they need to secure great careers.

“Degree apprenticeships are a fantastic way to earn while you learn, gaining the higher-level skills employers demand.

“These proposals will help make sure degree apprenticeships continue to meet the skills needs of employers, and create even more opportunity to earn whilst you learn for people across the country.”

Jennifer Coupland 100x100Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute), said:

“Degree apprenticeships are really popular with apprentices and parents and have met a clear demand from employers for higher level skills.

“With more than four years of degree apprenticeship experience under our belts, since the Institute launched in April 2017, we’ve seen lots of examples of good practice, which we want to make the norm across the whole programme. 

“The skills system has a big part to play in our nation’s economic recovery and the time is right to look at how degree apprenticeships can give more and better opportunities to apprentices and employers. I would like to urge as many people as possible to take part in our consultation and feedback on the plans.”

Why do degree apprenticeships matter?

Level 6 plus and degree apprenticeships play an increasingly important role in our education and skills system, enabling employers to meet their skills needs and supporting productivity. Furthermore, degree apprenticeships provide individuals with pathways into highly skilled occupations, offering alternatives to traditional, full-time higher education.

In addition to supporting the economy, therefore, degree apprenticeships have the potential to help widen participation in higher education and employment and support social mobility.

Employer demand for level 6 plus and degree apprenticeships continues to grow since the first degree apprenticeship was approved in 2015. In 2019/20 academic year, there were over 30,000 starts on apprenticeships at levels 6 and 7, including over 20,000 starts on degree apprenticeships including in high value areas such as digital, healthcare and engineering, amongst others.

We want to build on these strong foundations and continue to optimise degree apprenticeships for both employers and individuals. The Institute already works closely with employers to develop and approve degree apprenticeships.

While this process has created almost 100 degree apprenticeships since 2015, we have listened carefully to employers who have told us that the existing approach does not appropriately recognise the currency of the degree in the labour market, which in some cases limits the extent to which these apprenticeships could support employers’ skills needs.

As employers have told us, there is a risk that apprentices in specific industries and sectors may be placed at a disadvantage compared to their labour market peers, in the absence of an approach to the inclusion of degrees in level 6 and 7 apprenticeships that t reflects the labour market currency that the degree holds.

It is in this context that we wish to consult on proposals which collectively aim to optimise degree apprenticeships for employers and apprentices.

Why we are reviewing our degree apprenticeship policy?

We now have over four years’ experience of approving degree apprenticeships. With this experience in mind, the Institute has considered, with employers, the HE sector and apprentices, how best to optimise these already in-demand apprenticeships.

To support the outcomes listed above, the Institute is proposing five specific changes to its requirements of degree apprenticeships. While these changes, in a technical sense, relate to what the Institute will be able to approve as a degree apprenticeship in the future, they are reflective of changes that we wish to see in the way that degree apprenticeships are designed, developed and delivered to ensure that these apprenticeships better reflect real labour market requirements.

5 Proposed Changes

Please note: these are policy proposals and are subject to consultation outcomes and future spending decisions.

  • Change 1 – Better supporting graduate-entry occupations
  • Change 2 – Integration of on-the-job and off-the-job training
  • Change 3 – Alignment between apprenticeship KSBs and degree learning outcomes
  • Change 4 – Integration of assessment
  • Change 5 – Participation of an independent assessor with occupational expertise

What does this mean for other apprenticeships?

This consultation focuses on degree qualifications at level 6 and level 7, and their inclusion within apprenticeships. We are also undertaking a review of the other, non-degree, qualifications used in apprenticeships, governed by the Institute’s mandatory qualifications policy. We expect to engage with stakeholders on the mandatory qualifications policy review later this year.


Take part in the consultation that will close at midnight on 16 September 

The Institute will be running a series of stakeholder events to provide an opportunity for people to discuss the proposals in more detail on:

5 August:

  • Employers: 09:30-10:30, sign up here
  • Higher education institutions and training providers: 10:30-11:30, sign up here
  • Professional, statutory, and regulatory bodies and end-point assessment organisations: 15:30-16:30, sign up here

2 September:

  • Employers: 09:30-10:30, sign up here
  • Higher education institutions and training providers: 11:00-12:00, sign up here
  • Professional, statutory, and regulatory bodies and end-point assessment organisations: 15:30-16:30, sign up here

Who is this consultation for?

This degree apprenticeship consultation provides anyone with a relationship to apprenticeships an opportunity to provide feedback on the changes the Institute are proposing to the model of degree apprenticeships that it will approve, following engagement with employer and HE representatives.

If you have used, delivered, assessed or undertaken a degree apprenticeship or employed a degree apprentice we would value your response to this consultation.

Utilising your experiences with degree apprenticeships, we would like to understand how these proposals will affect you, your organisation, and your industry or sector.

We also welcome views from those who are considering engaging with degree apprenticeships in some way, and others, such as professional bodies, providing your insight as to whether these proposals and whether proposals will support employers in your industries and sectors to better meet their skills needs.


Higher and degree apprenticeships

1st Apr 2021: Provides information for young people on the opportunities, progression and benefits of doing a higher or degree apprenticeship.

Higher and degree apprenticeships are available at levels 4 to 7. They combine work with study andmay include a work-based, academic or combined qualification or a professional qualification relevant to the industry.

Higher apprenticeships go from level 4 to 7 and are equivalent to a foundation degree and above e.g. a professional qualification. Degree apprenticeships are available at levels 6 and 7 (full bachelor’s and Master’s).

The complete guide to higher and degree apprenticeships

Which? University, in conjunction with the National Apprenticeship Service, has published a new guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.

The guide covers what students need to know about apprenticeships; this includes an introduction to what they are, how much students can earn while they learn, subjects, universities and employers involved in higher and degree apprenticeships and real stories from apprentices and employers. There’s also practical information around long term career prospects and the next steps to apply - and succeed.

Higher and degree vacancy listing

We are currently updating the higher and degree vacancy listing, please use Find an apprenticeship to search for current apprenticeship vacancies.

This document will provide a listing of the higher and degree vacancies available with a variety of apprenticeship employers. If you are interested in the job role you will be able to click the link to apply or submit an expression of interest.

Higher degree vacancy listing

PDF, 590KB, 28 pages

The complete guide to higher and degree apprenticeships

PDF, 1.6MB, 11 pages

Published 6 November 2015
Last updated 1 April 2021 + show all updates

  1. Removed out of date vacancy listing

  2. Updated the higher and degree vacancy listing.

  3. Added higher and degree vacancy listing.

  4. Attached Higher degree apprenticeships list.

  5. We have updated the complete guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.

  6. Updated the higher and degree vacancy listing.

  7. Added higher and degree vacancy listing.

  8. Updated the complete guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.

  9. Updated guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.

  10. Updated guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.

  11. Updated higher and degree apprenticeships fact sheet.

  12. Updated higher and degree apprenticeship fact sheet.

  13. Added the complete guide to higher and degree apprenticeships to publication page.

  14. Updated version of the Higher and degree apprenticeship fact sheet.

  15. Updated Higher and degree apprenticeship factsheet.

  16. First published.

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