Insight published today (26 May) by @UCAS_Online "Where next? Improving the journey to becoming an apprentice", indicates that over half of students looking to apply to higher education in 2022 are interested in apprenticeships, but find it difficult to access the relevant information that they need about them.

A third of students at schools and only half in colleges said that they were not told about apprenticeships, despite there being a legal requirement placed on schools to do so, known as the Baker clause in England.

The research highlights that more needs to be done to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships - only 8% of students surveyed associated apprenticeships with leading to a good job. An apprenticeship offers on-the-job training and is a great path to a good career in a variety of sectors, yet only 4% of students associate the word ‘prestigious’ with apprenticeships compared with 76% for a traditional university degree.

This research provides an opportunity to better explain what an apprenticeship is and UCAS is currently working on plans to bolster its offer for would-be apprentices, aligning with its services for prospective undergraduates.

UCAS intends to take a key role in the progression of the recently published Skills and Post-16 Education Bill through Parliament. Ensuring the wealth of information on about the all the different pathways available is more accessible, so that students can make informed choices, is crucial and UCAS is working hard to deliver this over the next 12-months and beyond.

Apprenticeships listed on the ‘Career Finder’ tool of the UCAS site were viewed over 1.2 million times in the past twelve months, so it is not a case of ‘starting from scratch’. UCAS provides high-quality careers advice, information, and guidance resources to help students during their exciting discovery phase, facilitating and signposting the diverse routes to higher education. UCAS’ goal is for its service to be as strong for would-be apprentices as it is for prospective undergraduates, allowing students to explore their options side by side in a truly comparable manner.

Clare Marchant 100x100UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said: 

“UCAS is about much more than applying to an undergraduate degree - we provide information and support across the full range of post-18 opportunities. But more needs to be done to shake off the outdated stigma or misplaced snobbery associated with apprenticeships, given they are a great start to any career.

“We recognise students have more choice than ever before, but navigating the information available can be challenging for both students and advisers. UCAS aims to be the go-to place for all post-secondary options and enable students to navigate apprenticeship opportunities side by side with undergraduate courses.  We will also play a core role in delivering the ambition set out in the Skills Bill announced this month by the government.”

Jane Hickie 20Dec 100x100Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said:

“The findings that a third of students at schools and half in colleges have not been told about apprenticeships despite the Baker clause simply confirms AELP’s long-held view that it a clause without teeth. 

"The government appeared to recognise this when it published a three-point plan in its FE white paper to address the matter but the absence of specific measures in the recently published Skills Bill would suggest we have a plan that’s a bark but no bite. 

"AELP will be urging Parliamentarians to use the Bill to fix this once and for all.  We also believe that inspection of careers guidance in schools and colleges should be a more prominent part of Ofsted’s remit and if the guidance is inadequate, it should limit the overall grade outcome.”

Methodology: UCAS surveyed 1,165 responses and responses were then weighted by age, gender, socio economic status, school type, region of UK (England only) in line with the proportions on the UCAS database, for which the data was taken from UCAS Undergraduate Sector-Level End of Cycle Data Resources 2020.

For a full copy of the report, download Where next? Improving the journey to becoming an apprentice (184 KB).

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.

Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college or an apprenticeship. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies and employers, including apprenticeships.

We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all of our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.

More data and better analysis is the key to making sure people have fair access to university, college, or an apprenticeship 

4 Mar 2021: Following the publication of the report by the Higher Education Policy Institute,  ‘Designing an English Social Mobility Index’, 


John Cope, Director of Strategy & Policy at UCAS, said:

“As is often said “what gets measured gets done”, and this is the case in university admissions as HEPI’s report today highlights. The report is correct that more data and better analysis is the key to making sure people have fair access to university, college, or an apprenticeship. UCAS has developed the multiple equality measure (MEM), which avoids fixating on one data set or a narrow interpretation of social mobility, instead combining a range of indicators such as gender, ethnicity, where people live, where they went to school, and parental income. By bringing these together in a single measure, we get a fuller and more rounded understanding of social mobility.

“The UCAS multiple equality measure currently shows that significant progress on levelling up opportunity has begun to slow in recent years, with the inequality gap narrowing an average of 1.1% since 2015 versus 4.4% across the previous five years. The disruption and lost learning caused by the pandemic will inevitably have had a disproportionately harmful impact on pupils from a disadvantaged background, meaning a national effort to help pupils catch up is critical if we are to avoid social mobility going backwards.”

In 2020, UCAS data shows a record numbers of 18 year old acceptances from the lowest participation areas: 29,020 UK students from POLAR4 Q1, and over 14,000 acceptances of 18 year old English pupils receiving free school meals (FSM) (as outlined in our report 'What happened to the COVID cohort?').

UCAS supports levelling up and social mobility through the provision of high-quality information, advice, and content to students that supports them in assessing all of their options, ranging from traditional undergraduate courses to apprenticeships. This is delivered via the UCAS Hub - a personalised, digital space for young people considering their post-18 choices, as well as anyone thinking about returning to education. 

This personalised approach is critical to helping each individual explore their options and make the right decision for them, based on their interests, ambitions and circumstances. Annually, UCAS receives 30 million users and nearly 100 million unique page views of our content hosted on 

During the pandemic, UCAS enhanced this content through greater social media interaction, including Facebook live events, which help us to engage students and keep them fully updated about the changing situation – this resulted an increase of over 300% in social media engagements.

Furthermore, as UCAS events have moved online, this has allowed UCAS to better tailor exhibitions to meet the information and advice needs of our visitors – and ensure that all options available to students, including apprenticeships,  are fully represented.

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