The Institute will reform and improve degree apprenticeships following strong support from consultation respondents.

Degree apprenticeships already play a hugely important role in our education and skills system. They give people, who may not previously have had the opportunity, a chance to progress their careers through higher education.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) will make them work even better and take full advantage of the unique status degrees have in the labour market.

A report published today, on responses to our consultation held earlier this year, shows broad support for the planned changes and sets out how we will act on issues flagged.

We will now implement the reforms that will lead to:

  1. More opportunities for degrees to be included in level 6 and 7 apprenticeships.
  2. Further integration of on and off the job training, which is a key principle of all apprenticeships.
  3. Alignment of all degrees within apprenticeships with ‘occupational standards’ – the employer-defined knowledge, skills and behaviours that must be learned to prove occupational competency – to avoid existing degrees being re-badged as apprenticeships.
  4. Integration of degree apprenticeship end-point assessment (EPA) with the final assessment of degrees. This means that one assessment will cover the apprenticeship’s content, be central to the degree and - where professional bodies agree – secure professional recognition too.
  5. All integrated degree apprenticeship EPAs having to include assessment by trained individuals with appropriate occupational and industry expertise.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute, said:

“I want to thank everyone who took part in the consultation and helped further shape and improve our plans. These changes will build on past successes with degree apprenticeships and improve how they work for employers and all apprentices for years to come. I’m delighted that the consultation responses were overwhelmingly in favour of implementing our proposals, which is what we now plan to do.”

Degree apprenticeships were introduced in support of the employer-led reform programme to help meet industry demand for more people with higher level skills. There are now over 150 serving a huge variety of occupations – from laboratory scientists, advanced forensic practitioners, solicitors, visual effects or technical directors for film and television, and game programmers, to teachers, nurses, police constables, midwives, electro-mechanical engineers, archaeologists, and ecologists.

Three quarters of consultation respondents supported our planned changes to how degrees are included in apprenticeships; 85% backed further integration of on-the-job and off-the-job training; and 79% supported alignment with occupational standards. A further 73% backed integrating EPA with the final assessment of the degree; and the same percentage supported all EPA including assessment by trained people with occupational expertise.

Notes to editors:

The Institute will develop guidance early next year to further support the reform process. We will also address important points raised through the consultation including the need for:

  • Employers and professional bodies to share best practice guidance on how to integrate on and off the job training with higher education institutions. We recognise that different approaches will be required for different occupations and will be flexible in our approach.
  • Employer-led trailblazer groups to involve relevant higher education institutions in the development stage of occupational standards. We will support this while maintaining the primacy of the employer view.
  • Independent and rigorous monitoring of end point assessment following integration with degree assessment. We will clarify requirements that will ensure independence is not compromised.
  • Monitoring of the impact of the reforms on groups who share certain protected characteristics. We believe the reforms will benefit everyone but fully accept the importance of keeping a close eye on this situation.
  • Implementation of the reforms over a transition period. We will still allow submissions of new proposals and revised occupational standards based on the new policy from 16 March 2022, as originally intended. However, we will not require all submissions relating to degree apprenticeships to meet the new policy until the 7 September 2022 submission date.