Degree apprenticeships to get £40 million funding boost

Education secretary directs OfS to create ‘competitive degree apprenticeship development fund’ in England

March 30, 2023
Gillian Keegan
Source: UK Parliament
Gillian Keegan

The Westminster government has asked the English regulator to establish a “competitive degree apprenticeship development fund”, worth up to £40 million.

In a letter to the Office for Students (OfS) setting out how it should deploy the Strategic Priorities Grant, to be increased by £57 million in 2023-24, secretary of state for education Gillian Keegan outlined the government’s funding priorities for the year ahead, saying it was “now more important than ever for students to pursue HE studies which are in their own best interest, and that of the wider economy”.

On degree apprenticeships, Ms Keegan said the government wanted to ensure that a wider group of people can “access their unique benefits”.

The £40 million fund will be allocated to fund capacity-building projects across the 2023-24 and 2024-25 financial years.

The OfS “should use this funding to support projects with the greatest potential to diversify growth at L6, by supporting providers to deliver degree apprenticeship provision for the first time; support existing providers to deliver a wider range of provision; and improve access to degree apprenticeships,” said Ms Keegan.

She said the funding represents a “significant uplift” on last year but warned projects must demonstrate strong progress against their aims to receive ongoing support.

Vanessa Wilson, chief executive of the University Alliance group of universities, said the scale of the funding provides an “exciting opportunity to meet the challenge of expanding access to degree apprenticeships”.

“Degree apprenticeships are increasingly one of the most popular and competitive higher education options, and rightly so,” she said.

“They offer people of all ages the opportunity to get a fee-free degree-level qualification, earn while they learn, and set themselves up for an exciting career. For employers, they help deliver the highly skilled people they need.

“To meet the rising demand for degree apprenticeships, there is a need to quickly and significantly scale up the number and variety of degree apprenticeships on offer,” she added.

The government has recently announced that apprenticeships will be showcased alongside traditional degrees by Ucas, to put vocational routes into careers on an “equal footing”.

Ms Keegan also said in her letter that the courses students “undertake should give them the skills they need to secure gainful employment, supporting a high-wage high-skill economy”.

The letter also told the OfS to continue to prioritise funding of high-cost subjects that support strategically important subjects, and to maintain funding for world-leading specialist providers to a maximum of £58 million in funding.

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