Apprenticeships are a combination of work and study that give apprentices on-the-job experience at the same time as learning, as well as incurring no student fees (training costs are funded by the government and employers).
Degree apprenticeships combine learning at higher education level, and enable businesses to ensure they are training young people with the skills needed in specific jobs.
There are four different types of apprenticeships:
- Intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships – equivalent to 5 GCSEs
- Advanced (Level 3) apprenticeships – equivalent to 2 A-levels
- Higher (Levels 4, 5, 6 or 7) apprenticeships – can be equivalent to anything from a foundation degree to a masters’
- Higher degree (Levels 6 or 7) apprenticeships – a subset of higher apprenticeships, equivalent to a bachelors’ or a masters’ degree respectively.
For the analysis in this guide, we are focusing on degree apprenticeships (Levels 6 and 7). These are a small proportion of all apprenticeships, making up 0.4 per cent of apprenticeship entrants in 2016-17.
Throughout this guide, Levels 4 and 5, and Levels 6 and 7 (degree), have been separated from each other. Splitting higher apprenticeships in this way makes it easier to compare degree apprenticeships, our main focus group here, to other levels.
Degree apprenticeship numbers have been growing over the past few years. Overall, there were 2,580 degree apprentices registered in the 2016-17 academic year, with 1,750 having started in that academic year. This guide focuses on these entrants.
It is worth noting that although numbers are small, degree apprenticeships have been increasing year-on-year, with preliminary analysis from the DfE suggesting that numbers are still growing in the 2017-18 academic year despite the drop in overall apprenticeship starts.
Popular degree apprenticeships
The two most popular degree apprenticeships are:
- Chartered Manager - 34 per cent of entrants
- Digital and Technology Solutions Professional - 29 per cent of entrants.
Most of the degree apprenticeships currently available are within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject grouping. Within the arts, humanities and social sciences subject areas, the majority of degree apprentices are taking chartered management courses.
Notes about the data
Within this guide the degree apprenticeship entrants are compared to a subset of those entering higher education. These are UK-domiciled first degree level 2016-17 entrants attending English institutions that provide a degree apprenticeship, split by part-time and full-time study. This group has then been further restricted by selecting only those studying similar subjects, and then weighted by subject to have similar proportions to the degree apprentices.
This creates a comparator group as similar as possible, based on higher education provider and subject, to those doing a degree apprenticeships.
The technical document below gives more information on this.