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By the age of 21, degree apprentices can be £100,000 better off than their friends at university. As sought-after as an Oxbridge place, degree apprenticeships are a first-class success story, blending academic study and practical training. Promising a debt-free degree and at least three years’ work experience, a new must-have career path.

A report out this week from the Association of Accounting Technicians suggests that by the age of 21 degree apprentice graduates can be up to £100,000 better off than their university-attending peers, as a result of earning £50,000 since the age of 18 without incurring a hefty university debt.


The qualifications offer a Level 6 version, equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, while the top-ranked Level 7 matches a master’s. Students earn as they learn, splitting their time between conventional university study and industrial placements. Employers cover costs for the degree course and the student’s salary, saving the trainee an average of £44,760 in undergraduate debt.

It’s little wonder, then, that applications are soaring. One in seven of all apprenticeship starts is now at degree level, while official Department for Education figures show an 8 per cent increase in people starting degree-level apprenticeships last year alone.

Robert Halfon, the minister for skills and higher education, said: “Degree apprenticeships offer a mroute into a career for those who want an alternative to a traditional undergraduate degree. They offer valuable workplace experience and the chance to earn a wage whilst studying for a degree at one of our fantastic universities.”


Next week is National Apprenticeship Week when companies showcase the benefits of work and study schemes. This year’s theme is “Skills for Life”, highlighting courses as diverse as space engineering, law, social work and surveying. With Britain facing acute skills shortages in key areas, degree apprenticeships are already playing a pivotal role.

Vivienne Stern, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “Degree apprenticeships have proven to be successful due to their joint development between employers and universities and the fact they enable students to learn while they earn. With further collaboration between the government, the higher education sector and employers, degree apprenticeships can play a key role in plugging the skills gap in the UK.”


About 100 institutions offer the courses and 95 per cent of degree-level apprentices are in sustained employment after graduating. Industry leaders including Goldman Sachs, BAE Systems, AstraZeneca, Deloitte, BT, Amazon, EY and the NHS all offer the courses. Companies say that they are a win for students, their families and firms by providing a generation of work-ready, motivated and highly skilled employees. They also offer a social mobility route for
candidates less able to bear heavy student debt.

The challenge now is for employers and universities to scale up the offer to meet demand. The government has responded by investing £40 million over the next two years, so that higher education providers can offer more degree apprenticeships and increasing overall investment in apprenticeships to £2.7 billion by 2025.

Find out more about National Apprenticeship here: https://naw.appawards.co.uk/