Over the last few days the press has been full of news on tuition fees and the associated repayment. Whilst the combined impact of freezing fees and a raised earnings bar before repayment (£21,000 to £25,000 per annum) could potentially help some, the cost for a full-time degree and the potential economic consequences means that this is still a very serious financial commitment, not to be underestimated.
A possible solution entered the educational ecosystem in March 2015 with the announcement of Degree Apprenticeships. Significant government funding has been allocated behind these new standards, £10 million in March 2016 has since been added to with a further £4.4 million later in the year, all with the target of achieving some 5,000+ opportunities for students and employers in the 2017-18 academic year.
As a student, these offer a pathway to a Higher Education qualification in combination with all the benefits that an apprenticeship brings; an introduction and tutelage in the world of work, whilst earning some cold hard cash as you do so. For a business, you create a pipeline of talent focused in the areas you know that will benefit the business whilst helping promote loyalty and retention across your workforce.
There is still much work to be done in getting the full spectrum of courses up and running as the various “Trailblazer” groups across the sectors push to finalise their Apprenticeship standards (see chart below for an idea of what is approved by sector to date). What may interest both students and employers is that the content and structure for these new Standards has come from some of the UK’s brightest and best in collaboration across the academic and commercial worlds.
Whilst these courses have an alternative financial perspective to understand for students vs a full time “traditional” degree, the level of commitment and sheer hard work should not be underestimated. But for those who are willing to push themselves, and for employers who have the desire to create a solid pipeline of talent, Degree Apprenticeships offer a great solution for those that want to learn and earn.