Degree apprenticeships – the OfS’s role

The OfS is one of several organisations that regulates and supports apprenticeships.

Our role

Our role in this area focuses on:

We work with other organisations to make sure degree apprenticeships meet the right quality and standards.

We consider the inspections that Ofsted carries out and other sources of information to decide whether a provider is complying with our conditions of registration in this area.

We also have a specific role in regulating the assessments – the ‘end-point assessments’ – that degree apprentices must complete.

We allocate funding for some of the activities and facilities of providers registered with the OfS in the approved (fee cap) category. The OfS uses funding to support the availability of high quality, cost-effective higher education, so that students can choose from a diverse range of courses and providers. The OfS is not responsible for funding individual apprentices.

We allocate funding to subjects and courses, including:

  • areas where teaching costs are particularly high (such as science, engineering and healthcare)
  • particular policy areas and government priorities (such as healthcare and student premium funding to support successful student outcomes).

We allocate funding to eligible providers to support the teaching of higher education courses (and other related activities). This covers all higher education qualifications, including those taken as part of an apprenticeship.

We collect data on students taking higher education qualifications (both as part of and separate to apprenticeships) as a proxy measure of teaching activity. This data informs the calculation of OfS funding allocations.

We allocate funding to encourage providers to build capacity and increase equality of opportunity in their degree apprenticeship provision. This is addressed through recurrent and capital funding allocations.

We regulate access and participation plans, which set out how higher education providers will improve equality of opportunity for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education. In designing their plans, we expect most providers to consider how they can expand and promote diverse and flexible pathways and provision.

We publish and update the Equality of Opportunity Risk Register (EORR), which sets out a range of risks to equality of opportunity across the higher education sector in relation to particular student groups

We publish the access and participation data dashboard which shows data for individual higher education providers across different student characteristics.

We fund strategic interventions to further equality of opportunity.

Other organisations

The other organisations we work with include:

IfATE works with employers to develop, approve, review and revise apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

To this end, it collaborates with employers to develop 'occupational standards' for apprenticeships that align with occupations recognised by employers.

Each standard describes an occupation and profiles the knowledge, skills and behaviours a person needs to be competent in that occupation.

More about IfATE

Ofsted inspects the quality of apprenticeships at all levels and acts as the single body responsible for their quality assurance. This includes at universities and colleges.

It reports the findings of its inspections into universities and colleges to the Educations and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the OfS.

More about Ofsted’s role

Ofqual regulates end point assessments – or the final assessment that apprentices take – for ‘non-integrated’ apprenticeships.  

In 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.

Where the end point assessment forms part of the degree – ‘integrated’ higher and degree apprenticeships – the OfS regulates the assessment.  

More about Ofqual’s role

The Department for Education, acting through the ESFA, has overall accountability for the apprenticeship programme and all aspects of apprenticeships policy and strategy.

It also allocates funding for apprenticeships to employers and providers and specifies the rules that employers and providers must meet to receive these funds.

More about the ESFA and funding rules

Published 17 April 2024

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