Plans for graduate apprenticeships have been dismissed as "a fudge" to stop the expected exodus from universities when tuition fees are introduced next year.
Education minister Tessa Blackstone this week announced five feasibility studies into the apprenticeships, whereby students work towards degrees and postgraduate qualifications while earning.
Roly Cockman, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said it might help students who could not afford fees, but might also harm standards.
Gill Evans, of the Campaign for Academic Freedom and Standards, said it was a "fudge". "They're turning degrees into vocational qualifications. Will students be expected to sell their souls in return for cash?" But Baroness Blackstone said the studies will help meet the needs of the labour market. "I am confident that graduate apprenticeships will become an important new pathway," she added.
Blackstone on science, page 20