Degree apprenticeships to offer 'no-fee HE'

The government is to unveil a range of courses allowing young people to complete a full honours degree while working, without having to pay fees

November 26, 2014

Two-thirds of the course costs of the so-called “degree apprenticeships” will be covered by the government, up to a maximum cap that has yet to be decided. Employers will cover the rest, while also paying the apprentice a wage.

The first degree apprenticeships will start in September 2015, and will be co-designed by a range of employers and universities. These initial programmes will include qualifications that cover digital skills, aimed at people embarking on careers in business analysis, software development and technology consultancy.

The higher education institutions confirmed to be taking part in developing and delivering the courses are: Aston University, Loughborough University, Manchester Metropolitan University, University College London and the universities of Exeter, Greenwich, the West of England and Winchester.

The companies currently involved include BT, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HMRC and John Lewis.

Richard Pettinger, principal teaching fellow (reader) in management education at UCL, said the university was delighted to be collaborating with employers and the government to create a new apprenticeship in “technology solutions”.

“These degree apprenticeship courses will open a new route for young people to build a career in technology with the support of government funding,” he said.

Prospective apprentices must apply to work at the companies that are offering the programmes when vacancies are advertised next year, and these companies will then work with universities to select those students they believe are best suited to the degree.

The total number of apprentices will depend on how many employers engage with the programme, but so far the initial set of employers have committed to providing more than 150 places next year. It is not yet known how long students on the scheme would be expected to take to obtain an honours degree.

A statement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the degrees would be funded using “£20 million of funding announced in the 2014 Budget”, which included “a commitment that government would fund higher education provision within the apprenticeships programme”.

Ed Vaizey, the digital economy minister, is also set to announce details of industry-designed “short courses”, which will aim to teach website development skills to small businesses that have little or no online presence.

“These new digital qualifications are the latest example of government working in partnership with academia and industry to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future,” he will say at the launch of Tech Partnership – a network of employers, hoping to create the skills to accelerate the growth of the digital economy – taking place in London this evening.

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