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Higher Education Commission Report evaluates effectiveness of Degree Apprenticeships

This week MTA’s Education & Development team attended the launch of Policy Connect’s report evaluating the effectiveness of Degree Apprenticeships.

The Prime Minister’s vision was for degree apprenticeships to bring the world of business and the world of education together, building the high level technical skills needed for the jobs of the future with the added benefit that young people were given financial security alongside a degree and associated professional certification.

In their report, Policy Connect criticised certain aspects of Degree Apprenticeships stating that Government will only achieve it’s ambitions for Degree Apprenticeships if it urgently implements the recommendations in their report.

The report finds that whilst evidence presented to the Higher Education Commission was successful in persuading them that degree apprenticeships were a valuable alternative to a standard University education by offering industry good mixture of academic study and vocational experience and students a salary and guaranteed employment, there has been a mismatch between the objectives and the implementation of degree apprenticeships.

The report focusses on 3 main points:


The report highlights that Degree Apprenticeship Standards have been slowly and narrowly developed with concern that many standards are not fit for purpose with a range of employers expressing concern as to the flexibility in existing standards. Industries with fast moving technology or legislation leading to a constantly evolving skills market could quickly see standards becoming out of date.

In addition to this, the approvals process for new standards is too slow, a matter which has sparked criticism from the construction sector where employers have stated that many qualifications their industry needs were still not approved.

Disparity between levy and non-levy payers

Evidence shows a separation in terms of levy and non-levy payers accessing degree apprenticeships. The report harshly criticises the procurement process for non-levy providers which has lead to a severe lack of providers. Of the 51 approved degree apprenticeship standards, 43% have no providers able to deliver to non-levy payers.

The report recommends that the process for levy and non-levy payers is merged so that providers can seamlessly deliver degree apprenticeships for both levied and non-levied employers.

Equality & Social Mobility

The report finds that the policy is not tackling existing education & employment cold spots and that equality of access for degree apprenticeships has not been addressed. Analysis of cold spots indicate that the ‘middle classes’ are favourably represented amongst degree apprentice figures.

The report recommends that maintenance support should be offered to disadvantaged young people at a similar level to university students so that they can access degree apprenticeships opportunities nationwide.

The full report stating all recommendations can be found by following this link: