What do parents and students think about degree apprenticeships?
Since degree apprenticeships were introduced 5 years ago, they’ve really taken off. They’re outperforming apprenticeships at all other levels and the sector is abuzz with soaring stats – the number of standards has increased by over 1,000% in 5 years and 91% of universities are now thinking about delivering degree apprenticeships.
The problem is, there isn’t the same excitement among students and parents. The majority of young people still associate apprenticeships with trades such as plumbing and aren’t aware of the higher-level courses. Only 20% of parents have even heard about degree apprenticeships.
“When you see the word ‘apprenticeship’, you kind of automatically associate it with lower achieving, even though it’s not.” Student, Exeter, year 12
In a report published by Universities UK, 81% of students said they knew ‘little or nothing at all’ about the application for degree apprenticeships. 78% said they knew ‘little or nothing at all’ about the subjects available, 93% knew ‘little or nothing at all’ about the course structure, and 67% said they knew ‘little or nothing at all’ about the course expenses.
This single survey question shows just how little students know about degree apprenticeships, and how much has to be done to share information. This need for positive messaging is particularly important because the more students and parents know about degree apprenticeships, the more they like them.
“I’ve never really known much about degree apprenticeships before today. So, I think it would be better to have more information, because it sounds like a nice mixture of both a degree and an apprenticeship. It sounds like quite a good route to go down.” Student, Bodmin, year 12
Students and parents love that degree apprenticeships give students the opportunity to earn while they learn and gain relevant skills on the job.
26% of students like that degree apprenticeships boost employability, strongly agreeing that ‘the employment prospects for those completing a degree apprenticeship are better than those completing a bachelor's degree.’
Students also see value in the work experience aspect. They like the idea of training on the job and learning different skills you can’t at university – like professionalism, interview skills and self-presentation.
For parents, the key appeal of degree apprenticeships is the fee structure. They like that students can gain work experience and a degree without accruing student debt.
“Of course, anything that means my children don’t come out of education with that millstone around their neck [tuition fess] is something that I am going to be pointing them towards.”
Parents and students still have some concerns about degree apprenticeships.
Parents are worried that degree apprenticeships are less flexible than traditional degrees – that students have to decide a specific career route before the age of 18.
Both students and parents were concerned that students completing degree apprenticeships would miss out on some of the social and cultural aspects of university – such as living with peers and taking part in extra-curricular activities.
“I think university increases their confidence because they’re not just thrown together with lots of people of different ages. It’s meeting up with their peers and forming bonds that they wouldn’t necessarily get it they went straight to work.”
Degree apprenticeships are delivered by universities, so students spend time on campus with other undergraduates in lectures, seminars and workshops. Maybe this needs to be better communicated with students and parents? Could more be done to encourage degree apprentices to take part in other activities at uni? Could universities set up programmes to support degree apprentices as a peer group?
There are so many ways these concerns can be addressed, so degree apprentices really do get the best of both worlds – work experience, student life, no student debt and a bachelor’s degree.
To find out more about degree apprenticeships, how they work, and what benefits they bring, download your ultimate guide to degree apprenticeships.