Paving the way to degree apprenticeships

With the new levy, we can expect to see a sharp increase in demand for apprenticeships. Making sure that degree apprenticeships are available is essential to meeting this demand. It’s also clear that they will form a critical part of the Government’s aims for increasing productivity and greater social mobility, and streamlined access to the professions from all parts of society.

So it’s not surprising that the last four weeks have been a period of intense activity for higher education institutions. To deliver apprenticeships they have to register with the Skills Funding Agency’s Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). For those that wish to deliver apprenticeship provision for non-levy paying employers, they also have to complete an invitation to tender (ITT) for procurement.

Navigating this new terrain has inevitably thrown up challenges. At the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) we have been tasked with smoothing the way.

So what lessons can we share, and how will we help the sector move forward?

Top tips

So far, for those developing applications for RoATP and the ITT we have identified a few key messages. These are:

  1. Always respond to all of the bullet points within each question and provide a response for exactly what is asked.
  2. Read the specification and guidance sheets carefully. They contain advice about what to include in each section.
  3. Remember the employer and not the learner or student is the customer and purchaser of the apprenticeship. This should be clear in the institution’s response, and in the processes and policies they are describing.
  4. Always use plain English and avoid HE ‘jargon’. The Skills Funding Agency will assess each bid and may not be familiar the systems and language of the higher education sector.
  5. Think ‘apprenticeship’. Institutions should make sure they mention apprenticeships and link what they say to what an apprenticeship is – a job and training programme for individuals in employment to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be competent in a particular occupation.
  6. Link current and previous experience and success in work-based learning, work-applied learning, placements, and employer-sponsored programmes to the apprenticeships the institution aims to deliver. Use evidence from employers, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), chambers of commerce, and professional bodies.

Support so far 

To help institutions, UVAC has run a number of activities: webinars, briefings, a surgery session in London for individual institutions, an email query line, and a detailed Q&A drawing on issues raised by the sector.

Some of the material from these sessions is now available online:

Webinar: Applying to the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers


See the presentation slides

Webinar: Invitation to tender for procurement


See the presentation slides

Q&A of issues raised by the sector

See the Q&As

Support going forward 

The response we received from the sector to this programme of help was overwhelmingly positive.  So we’re planning more activities of this sort:

1. Becoming an apprentice assessment organisation

All apprentices must now be assessed at the end of their apprenticeship. Only suitable organisations can carry out these ‘end-point assessments, and the Skills Funding Agency’s Register of Apprentice Assessment Organisations (RoAAO) records these organisations.

Importantly, institutions that are delivering integrated higher or degree apprenticeships will need to apply to the Register of Apprentice Assessment Organisations.  And to help them apply UVAC will organise a webinar for any organisation interested in making an application.

The webinar will be held in December or January, and we will publish further details in due course.

2. Developing provision for the apprenticeship market

For organisations delivering or planning to deliver apprenticeships at level 2 and 3 and higher apprenticeships , the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) offers a support programme ‘Future Apprenticeships’.

For institutions wishing to develop degree apprenticeships (L6 or L7), UVAC and HEFCE can provide necessary information and guidance.

UVAC will also run briefings on the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) and the Skills Funding Agency’s Funding Rules in the New Year.  We will publish further details on the UVAC website shortly.

For further details on entering the apprenticeship market, contact uvac@bolton.ac.uk

Understanding the current landscape

To support the wider aims of apprenticeships, HEFCE is running two surveys with Universities UK and Association of Graduate Recruiters to gather a more comprehensive picture of the current landscape.

Universities UK are running a survey to capture degree apprenticeship provision. The Association of Graduate Recruiters survey will record employer demand for that provision.

All institutions are encouraged to participate in these surveys. For more information on how to take part, please contact Elena Magrini (elena.magrini@universitiesuk.ac.uk) for the Universities UK survey, and Sarah Hathaway (sarah@agr.org.uk) for the Association of Graduate Recruiters survey.