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Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

These apprenticeships are offering exactly what it says: a higher education qualification or a degree.

the difference between a higher apprenticeship and degree apprenticeship is the level of qualification they offer. A degree apprenticeship will offer a degree (duh! :-)) and a higher apprenticeship can offer a variety of higher education qualifications from an NVQ level 4 or above to a Foundation Degree, Higher National Certificate of Diploma.

What are the differences between an apprenticeship and full time university?

Here are some of my ideas of the implications of either choice. Of course, you will have your own personal ones on top of that. Here too, the key thing is to explore and think carefully about either choice.

  Higher and Degree Apprenticeships     Full time higher education courses at college or university
Earn while you learn   Student loan (this doesn’t have to be a problem!)
Making your way into a career and onto a career path already while studying   Easier to get into, relatively speaking
Can be more difficult to find – make sure you have a backup, which could be a full time HE course   More flexibility in what you want to do at university and after (everything is still open for you to choose within reason)
Can be made redundant if the company goes out of business or sacked if you wilfully don’t do your job   The social life aspect of university
Sometimes hard to combine a job and study – you know yourself best   Wider choice of people you’re in contact with, potentially
More definite choice for a specific job and career path – you need to be more sure   More opportunities to study what and where you want
You probably work ‘within a team’ already as opposed to socialising with the wider student population at a university   Extra time to explore and make decisions
Can be a longer term commitment – dropping out or changing direction is a bit more awkward and difficult   You can build up experience slowly throughout your degree with a number of different organisations and companies
You may need to go where the jobs/opportunities are   You need to start your career after finishing your degree
The opportunity/company/your boss decides what you do and learn   More opportunity to ‘go wide’ and explore a broader area of interest, or ‘go deep’ and explore your subject to the extent you want to with support of the university
More ‘applied’ – not all subjects or areas available this way   Normally more academic learning style


How can I find one?

As with apprenticeships at level 2 and 3, the key is to find a placement. For a higher or degree apprenticeship you don’t contact universities, as you would for full time higher education, you have to look for a placement. I have included the most useful links to help you do this below.

Two different options:

  • The good thing (or the bad thing) about these apprenticeships is that, because you’re not certain to get into a higher or degree apprenticeship until you have signed a contract with an employer, you can ‘bet on two horses’ by applying for a course you’re really interested in at university while at the same time looking for apprenticeship placements. If you’re then accepted on an apprenticeship you can cancel your university course/application. If you don’t find one, then you can take up a university place.
  • Another way to try and sort this out is by looking for a degree or higher apprenticeship during a gap year (while having a deferred university course as a backup). These apprenticeships are not necessarily linked to the academic year and you can apply whenever there is a vacancy.

What do I need?

  • A level 3 qualification. This is higher education, so you will need to have a level 3 qualification in something related, to get in. This can be A levels, a level 3 college course, or other level 3 qualification both the employer and linked university or college accepts. You will need to explore vacancies to find out what this usually means for the area you are interested in.
  • A good deal of determination: this is not the easiest option to get into, so determination and resilience are key
  • A good CV – let me know if you need help or you can contact me and I will send you a step by step CV writing guide to get you started
  • Confidence – not just to start in what is often a busy workplace, but also to get in, in the first place. You will no doubt have to do a job interview, depending on the company, with often additional tests as well.
  • A real interest in the job you’re applying for. This is not an option to ‘see how things go’. You need to be more or less certain that what you are applying for is what you want to do for the long-ish term.

Useful links:

For information:

For opportunities:


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