Degree apprenticeship vs university

  • Last updated 09 Jan 2020


Degree Apprenticeships and university will both gain you a Level 6 qualification – a full bachelor’s.

However there are some differences in the method to gaining this qualification, and therefore some careers will suit one path and others will suit the other.

Degree Apprenticeships aim to bring together the best of higher and vocational education, and are offered in key industry areas including, chartered surveying, aerospace engineering, and nuclear.

Groups of businesses, universities and colleges have developed practical, vocational degree courses which will allow people to combine academic study from a traditional university degree with the practical experience needed for wider employment.

Apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace and are employed throughout – gaining a full bachelor’s or master’s degree while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession.

As with other apprenticeships, the cost of course fees are shared between government and employers, meaning that the apprentice can earn a full bachelors or even masters degree without paying any fees. As well as being suitable for school leavers as an alternative route to gaining a degree, the new qualifications are expected to strengthen the vocational pathway and be suitable for existing apprentices looking to progress in their career.

As such, students/trainees on Degree Apprenticeships do not qualify for student loans in the UK.

So: if you want a debt-free degree and hands-on experience, and there’s a Degree Apprenticeship in a sector you’re already interested in, then this could be the option for you.

However, they won’t suit everybody. Students are limited to the universities working with the apprentice providers ­– which might be in towns or cities they don’t particularly want to live in ­– and to the subjects provided, which are industry-specific.

Traditional degrees offer the broadest choice – basically any subject you’re interested in will be catered for – and prospective students can apply for places in up to five different towns and cities.

Some people will also want to fully immerse themselves in academic study, and explore in-depth theoretical ideas and analytical thinking, without the work experience element that is a big part of a Degree Apprenticeship, which of course means a traditional degree will be more suited to them.

There are also still many careers that require traditional degrees, which can’t be attained via a Degree Apprenticeship: check jobs in the sector you want to move into and establish whether or not this is the case. 

Read more:

What is a degree apprenticeship?

Who can do a degree apprenticeship?


Image courtesy of Mari Helin Tuominen

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