Students get the chance to earn as they learn with apprenticeships at Oxford Brookes University

Kathryn Fairhurst Jones and Jacob Wilkins
Kathryn Fairhurst Jones and Jacob Wilkins

Apprentices studying at Oxford Brookes University have described how working and learning as a combined programme is helping them move their careers forward.

Apprenticeships are available at Oxford Brookes across a range of disciplines including town planning, architecture, leadership, health and nursing and human resources. Kathryn Fairhurst Jones and Jacob Wilkins are two of the apprentices who joined schemes run by Oxford Brookes in September 2022. During National Apprenticeship Week (6 to 12 February) Kathryn and Jacob tell their stories. 

Kathryn’s story

Kathryn, 45, from Charlbury, Oxfordshire, works in the Human Resources department at the University of Oxford and is studying on the Senior People Professional Apprenticeship (HR specialism) course at Oxford Brookes. 

“I was doing the job of an unqualified human resources professional and the apprenticeship gave me a good way to get a formal qualification to broaden my horizons,” said Kathryn. “I have enjoyed meeting other people on the course. There are eight of us including someone from Oxfam and people from the private sector.” 

Kathryn joined the University of Oxford from the Civil Service in 2021. The apprenticeship course involves lectures at Oxford Brookes every two to three weeks, in the evenings and at weekends as well as online material provided by the tutor.  

“I’m doing the apprenticeship part-time which is good because I’ve got two children aged six and 10 and my family is really important to me. My children are impressed that their mum is at university and I’m really enjoying it. The subject matter is really interesting and it’s relevant to my job. It’s essential to have a supportive employer and a line manager who can give you different pieces of work that are relevant to the course.” 

Ruth Kinahan, HR Policy Manager for the University of Oxford and Kathryn’s line manager, said: “I’m really pleased Kathryn is doing this qualification as an apprenticeship. It’s a good opportunity to develop and one of the nice things about being a line manager is seeing your team members grow and develop.” 

Jacob’s story

Jacob, 24, is enjoying his first year of the Graduate Chartered Town Planner Degree Apprenticeship with Milton Keynes City Council’s Planning Academy. 

Jacob is studying for a master’s in Spatial Planning one day each week. The rest of his time is spent working in the planning department at Milton Keynes City Council.

At the end of the apprenticeship, Jacob will take an assessment to become a Chartered Town Planner with a membership of the Royal Institute of Town Planning.

He said: “I studied History and Politics at undergraduate level and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the future. I’d worked during the Covid-19 pandemic and when this opportunity came up to go back into education and work at the same time I thought it was perfect.

“At the moment I’m studying and getting work experience in urban design and conservation and archaeology. I’m able to see how the theory works in practice.

“When I was younger I was in the Milton Keynes Youth Cabinet which gives teenagers the chance to learn about politics and social change. That experience, combined with the political part of my first degree and my interest in the history of Milton Keynes, made me think town planning would be a good career.

“This apprenticeship helps me combine my interest in politics, history and so much more. It’s great to be learning while working and earning a salary. Studying for a master’s while working at the same time is great. It’s a really comprehensive programme.”

Find out more about the apprenticeships at Oxford Brookes University.