Plans to increase technical education opportunities across higher education welcomed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).

The Institute has backed government plans to get universities to offer more degree apprenticeships and Higher Technical Qualifications, as part of a new drive to help disadvantaged young people achieve their full potential.

In a speech today, Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan told universities to rewrite their plans around access and participation.

She wants to see “tough and ambitious” targets to increase the proportion of students studying degree apprenticeships, Higher Technical Qualifications, or part-time courses.

The Institute has supported employers to design and rollout more than 150 level 6 and 7 apprenticeships. We are also raising standards of level 4 and 5 qualifications, which sit between T Levels and A Levels (level 3) and degree level (6 and 7), through our new Higher Technical Qualifications quality mark.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute, said:

“Employers tell us they are crying out for higher level technical skills and that degree apprenticeships are great for their organisations. So, these new targets can play an important part in growing the number of higher education institutions offering these opportunities so business and students can benefit.
“Lots of employers - particularly those in traditional white-collar professions - want a more diverse talent pipeline into their organisations. Degree apprenticeships open doors for bright students who could not afford fees or loans by allowing them to earn while they learn, achieve a degree, and get years of work experience. On qualifying these apprentices are in really high demand.”

Law and accountancy are good example of a traditional white-collar professions that are capitalising on degree apprenticeships to diversify their workforce. Employers see them as a vital way of extending the talent pool beyond the conventional degree route. Firms accept people with A Levels onto their apprenticeships and support them to gain relevant qualifications alongside work.

The Institute will report back soon on public consultation responses to our plans to improve how degree apprenticeships are developed, approved, and work in practice for employers and apprentices.

We officially launched our employer-led Higher Technical Qualifications quality mark in June this year and the first wave has been approved for the digital sector.

Our occupational maps are also being updated to capture the full spectrum of technical education opportunities, making exciting opportunities for progression clearer than ever before from entry right up to degree level.

The government plans announced today (Wednesday) will play a key role in the levelling up agenda. They will also focus on:

  • Ensuring universities move from just getting disadvantaged students through the door, to admitting them onto courses that deliver positive outcomes
  • Working more with schools and colleges to raise standards so students get better qualifications and have more options and can choose the path that is right for them
  • Ending bureaucratic access and participation document plans, instead giving universities more time to focus on disadvantaged learners

The Government will also invest £8million into removing barriers to post-graduate research for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students, with projects looking at admissions and targeted recruitment.

Minister Donelan said:

“I have also asked the Office for Students to strongly encourage providers to set themselves ambitious, measurable targets to significantly increase the proportion of students on higher and degree apprenticeships.
“We need to send a clear message to every disadvantaged young person thinking about higher education that they will have the support - through school, college and university to get there if they want to and achieve a positive outcome for themselves.
“Every region in the country should have excellent schools and colleges where students can progress to high quality technical education or take the academic route.”