7.1 What is an apprenticeship?

  • 1.1 Apprenticeships combine a job with study towards a higher education qualification, enabling students to ‘earn while they learn’. They receive a salary from their employer and their tuition fees are met from funding generated by the apprenticeship levy. The levy is paid by all employers with a staffing bill of over £3m, as part of the Government’s aim to substantially increase the number of people taking apprenticeships and to promote them as an alternative route to a higher education qualification. The awards associated with Higher and Degree apprenticeships are available from levels 4 to 7: Higher apprenticeships are usually equivalent to a Foundation degree or professional qualification, while Degree apprenticeships are available at levels 6 and 7 (equivalent to Bachelors and Masters degrees). Apprentices work at least 30 hours per week for their employer, and learning fits around their work commitment.

    1.2 Apprenticeships must be aligned with ‘apprenticeship standards’ which have been developed by groups of employers (called ‘trailblazers’), and define the knowledge, skills and behaviours required in order to be competent in a specific occupation. New apprenticeship standards are continuing to be developed, where new trailblazer groups are established - please see the current list of occupations available to employers and training providers

    1.3 A higher or degree apprenticeship standard will typically be comprised of a higher education qualification at the appropriate level and an assessment plan made up of:

    • assessment of work based competence, which may either be incorporated into the degree qualification or assessed independently – tasks in the workplace must align with the level of the final academic award;
    • End Point Assessment (EPA). This is a final independent assessment of competence, the format of which may vary according to the apprenticeship standard. The EPA may involve examinations or assessments for relevant professional bodies; and some standards have integrated EPAs, i.e. they form part of the degree qualification;
    • English and Maths at level 2, for apprentices who do not already hold these qualifications.

    1.4 Oxford Brookes is on the Education & Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, as are a number of members of the University’s Associate College Partnership (see the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP))

    1.5 The development of a degree apprenticeship may offer an opportunity to work with a strategically important employer on a large or prestigious programme. Apprenticeships differ from a traditional on-campus undergraduate or taught postgraduate programme in a number of important ways - see guidance note G7.1 for some of the key issues to be taken into consideration when developing a higher or degree apprenticeship. A checklist of key questions for teams intending to develop a new higher or degree apprenticeship is also included in the guidance note.

    1.6 The Degree Apprenticeships Working Group - chaired by the PVC(Student Experience) - has been established to provide a strategic approach to identifying and taking advantage of opportunities for developing higher and degree apprenticeships.