Degree apprenticeships: a guide for higher education providers

Checking the quality of apprenticeships

Working closely with other organisations, we regulate the quality of higher and degree apprenticeships and the qualifications they lead to.

Ofsted and inspections

Ofsted inspects the quality of apprenticeships at all levels, which makes it the single body responsible for their quality assurance.

This means that Ofsted carries out inspections of apprenticeship training at universities and colleges registered with the OfS. It then reports its judgements to us and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Overall, the DfE, acting through ESFA, is accountable for the apprenticeship programme. Acting on the information it receives from Ofsted, it will decide whether it is necessary to intervene.

Where the ESFA decides to take appropriate regulatory action we are unlikely to do the same.

OfS conditions of registration

This work aligns with the way we regulate quality and standards in general.

Like all providers registered with the OfS, providers, that offer higher and degree apprenticeships, must meet our conditions of registration for quality and standards, which form part of our regulatory framework. These conditions, among other factors, require courses to meet standards recognised across the sector

Degree apprenticeship programmes must also meet our minimum standards for student outcomes. This means we monitor them to make sure rates of apprentices continuing, completing and progressing with their training meet the thresholds we have specified

We consider the judgements that Ofsted reaches through its inspections to identify where we have concerns that a provider is not meeting our conditions of registration. We also share relevant information with Ofsted that we gather through our monitoring to inform its inspection of apprenticeship training. 

We also consider whether Ofsted’s judgements indicate concerns about quality and standards concern beyond apprenticeships at a provider.

Quality of end-point assessments

We have a specific role in assessing the quality of end-point assessments for ‘integrated’ higher and degree apprenticeships, for providers who are registered with the OfS and that are also registered on the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR) as the End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO).

  • Integrated higher and degree apprenticeships
    End-point assessments are the final assessments that apprentices must complete as part of their training. Where the end-point assessment has been designed as part of a degree, this is referred to as an ‘integrated’ degree apprenticeship.

In these circumstances, the OfS assesses the quality of the end-point assessment. We have published guidance for OfS registered providers about this process.

  • Non-integrated degree apprenticeships
    In the case of ‘non-integrated’ degree apprenticeships, the degree for which an apprentice studies already meets the requirements of the relevant occupation. This means the apprentice will be assessed for their degree and their end-point assessment separately.

In these circumstances, Ofqual regulates end-point assessments. Ofqual has published guidance about this process.

For non-integrated degree apprenticeships, we also work with Ofqual to ensure a joined up approach and reduce the burden on providers registered with us.  

Last updated 13 October 2023
13 October 2023
Link added to guidance on external quality assurance of apprenticeship end-point assessment.
22 September 2023
Updated information about quality assurance.
21 February 2022
Content reviewed and updated

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