More universities are delivering degree-apprenticeships, yet only 46% of the approved Level 6 and 7 apprenticeship standards have a registered End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) in place.

This article explores why Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) should consider filling this gap and registering as EPAOs.

1. Integrated degree apprenticeships are a great place to start

With an integrated degree-apprenticeship, an apprentice is trained, end-point assessed and awarded the degree all from the same HEI. This is an attractive proposition for many universities, but you need to be prepared.

You can engage employers with greater confidence, with a clear understanding of both the training and end-point assessment process and what it will look like for the apprentice. That said, it is vitally important that HEIs are prepared to conduct the end-point assessment.

There are over 100 universities listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, many of whom are starting to offer integrated degree apprenticeships – and yet just 30 universities are approved on the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations.

This suggests that a good number of HEIs are unprepared to fully deliver integrated degree-apprenticeships. (See below for details on how you can be supported with this.)

2. Support levy-paying organisations deliver apprenticeships to their staff

There are 262 employers listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. The majority of these are levy-paying companies that want to deliver apprenticeship training to their own staff – including at higher levels.

These organisations will be looking for trusted independent End-Point Assessment Organisations to assess their apprentices, and HEIs are in a prime position to offer this.

This presents an opportunity for HEIs to use their faculty expertise to work more closely with key employers in the same sector or support large organisations in their region. This can underline an HEIs reputation as a specialist and attract students to its suite of courses.

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Here’s an example – the Senior Investment / Commercial Banking Professional apprenticeship standard current has no EPAO in place. Many of the large investment banks may choose to employ and train their own staff as investment bankers.

An HEI with a reputation for its economic school is well positioned to become an EPAO for this standard and cement its ties and reputation in the banking sector.

3. Support other HEIs, FE colleges and private providers delivering higher-level apprenticeships

The nature of independent end-point assessment means there are many higher-level apprenticeships delivered by other HEIs, Further Education Colleges and private providers that will need to be end-point assessed by an independent End-Point Assessment Organisation. HEIs are in a prime position to develop and offer this service.

Several HEIs already validate courses delivered by FE Colleges, and can look at ways to develop these relationships.

For example, a city-based university already validates higher education courses at colleges based in five surrounding towns. The university knows there is a teaching shortage but cannot deliver teaching apprenticeships directly, as it is too far for apprentices to travel. Instead, it works with its college partners to deliver the Teaching Degree apprenticeship standard and it becomes the EPAO.

By becoming the EPAO it keeps a standardised quality of teaching provision in the region that schools and teachers value.

So what next?

These are just three examples, there are many more opportunities for HEIs to become leading End-Point Assessment Organisations. Discuss the opportunities with your team.

If you do decide to go down the EPAO route, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • What processes your HEI has in place to maintain impartiality
  • Your HEI’s occupational experience
  • Your HEI’s assessing and grading credentials

SDN (Strategic Development Network) has supported over 50 organisations (including HEIs) to become and start operating as an approved End-Point Assessment Organisation.

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