The Office for Students (OfS) has today launched a funding competition to boost the capacity and equality of opportunity within degree apprenticeship provision in higher education. Funding will be available for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years.
The OfS will distribute up to £40 million through a competitive bidding exercise, which is now open for applications from OfS-registered higher education providers. Of the £40 million, up to £16 million will be allocated to projects that will complete before 31 July 2024 and up to £24 million is available for projects that will complete before 31 July 2025.
The funding competition aims to:
- Expand course provision at higher education providers already offering Level 6 degree apprenticeships
- Increase the number of students on Level 6 degree apprenticeships
- Expand course provision at higher education providers who are new to offering Level 6 degree apprenticeships
- Increase equality of opportunity within Level 6 degree apprenticeships
The OfS has published guidance for universities and colleges on how to submit bids for this funding.
John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said:
‘Degree apprenticeships can provide students with the best of both worlds; the opportunity to combine paid work with a high-quality undergraduate in their chosen industry. These qualifications help enhance diversity with flexible, innovative opportunities and provide an alternative route into higher education for students to learn skills that meet society’s current and future needs. Students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds who have historically found higher education harder to access might, in particular, find these courses well suited to their ambitions.
‘These funding competitions will build on the £8 million that we have already allocated to degree apprenticeships, and help expand the provision at higher education providers that are already providing or looking to provide these level 6 courses. The uptake of degree apprenticeships has been uneven across the sector, and this investment is targeted at increasing the capacity of capability of universities and colleges in their Level 6 degree apprenticeship offering.
‘Successful bids will need to consider how their course provision enhances equality of opportunity, to ensure that students from every background are able to access and succeed in their chosen career path.’
Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, said:
‘Expanding degree apprenticeships is crucial if we are to build a skills and apprenticeships nation that is fit for the future. Combining a degree with the opportunity to launch a career in a chosen industry, degree apprenticeships are helping to create a pipeline of talent that will help our economy to grow.
‘This extra £40 million will allow even more people to benefit, and I am delighted that the OfS has asked universities and colleges to show how their projects will create more opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as part of their bids for this funding. Degree apprenticeships are a key driver of social justice and expanding this opportunity will allow even more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to climb the ladder of opportunity.’
The funding competitions will occur in three waves, with the deadline for bids in the first wave closing on 20 November 2023.