A degree apprenticeship is a fantastic way of achieving professional qualification backed by a degree at the University of Cumbria. Studying whilst you work will ensure you don't pay tuition fees and allow you to earn a salary for the duration of your training.
You will need to be employed and have your employer’s support if you are interested in studying on one of our degree apprenticeship programmes.
Take a look at the topics below for more information about studying for a degree apprenticeship with the University of Cumbria, how to find apprenticeship opportunities and how to apply.
What is a higher and degree apprenticeship?
A degree apprenticeship is a job combined with a university degree. At the University of Cumbria, all our higher and degree apprenticeships are liked to either a foundation, bachelor's or postgraduate degree programme, with learners securing both an apprenticeship and university qualification. Many lead to professional occupations or provide the platform for Chartered membership of professional bodies.
What are the advantages of degree apprenticeships?
- Develop your career and boost your earning potential at the same time.
- Earn while you learn - receive a salary whilst training.
- Get a head start in your chosen sector by gaining the required skills and experience.
- No cost to you, your employer will cover the fees for your study.
- Dedicated support from both academic tutor and workplace mentor.
- Many programmes deliver both degree-level qualifications alongside professional recognition.
How much would I get paid?
This can vary depending on the employer you undertake your apprenticeship with, but at the very least you will receive the National Minimum Wage. Some employers will pay more, so it’s a good idea to investigate before you apply.
You will earn the same as your current salary if you are already working in a role around which your training is based. Your employer may offer you a new contract linked to this training, and may through this negotiation modify your salary in recognition of your training.
How are degree apprenticeships different from degrees?
Unlike conventional degrees where you won’t have to pay tuition fees and in effect are being paid to learn! You’ll also have longer to develop a positive working relationship with the organisation in which you are based. Some employers will offer a contract for the duration of the learning, others will offer a permanent contract linked to learning, providing a guaranteed job and career path on completion.
There is a wealth of information online to help individuals make informed choices, potential applicants and those interested in apprenticeships can find help and advice online here:
University College Admissions Service (UCAS)
How long do degree apprenticeships take to complete?
Degree apprenticeships vary in length, depending on the programme being studied, but usually, they are between two to five years in length.
A Level 6 degree apprenticeship will usually last between three and five years and a level 7 degree apprenticeship will typically take around two years to complete, varying slightly depending on the programme.
All learners are assessed for the current starting point, and if suitable prior learning can be evidenced and agreed upon. This may shorten the duration of the course, for example entering directly into year two of a programme, with the first year, accredited to your prior learning.
Prior learning may also exempt elements of a programme, this may not shorten the duration, but reduce the learning for you as an individual and the cost for your employer.
All prior learning is assessed individually at application, but we can set out agreed entry routes for establishing prior learning, typically for lower-level apprenticeships or qualifications.
Can I apply for a degree apprenticeship if I already have a degree?
You can apply for a degree apprenticeship providing the focus of the apprenticeship is significantly different from that of the degree you hold. This is to ensure that the programme will help you develop new skills and knowledge to enhance your career.
As mentioned previously, during the application we consider prior learning through your application and initial learning needs assessment, if your level of current training is greater than the training need, we may consider you ineligible for a degree apprenticeship in that chosen professional area.
How do you apply for a degree apprenticeship?
You may already be employed with an organisation that offers higher and degree apprenticeships linked to careers or promotion, if this is the case you typically would go through an internal selection process with your employer. If successful, your provisional offer from your employer would be subject to the full application to the University and meeting the funding and entry requirements of the programme.
If you are already working, you may be able to encourage your employer to support a degree apprenticeship within your current workplace. Head to our employer pages for more information.
If you are applying to a degree apprenticeship programme from outside the host organisation you do not need to apply for your degree apprenticeship through UCAS. Instead, you should apply directly to the employer, following the application process outlined in the vacancy details, which may be advertised on the company website or on the GOV.UK ‘Find an Apprenticeship page’. See the Useful Links section for other organisations posting vacancies.
Many apprenticeships start at the beginning of the academic year in September / October, to tie in with the delivery of University programmes, but check the individual listing details as this can vary.
Am I eligible for degree apprenticeship?
Entry requirements vary, your employer or prospective employer may set entry criteria based on the job linked to the apprenticeship training, in addition, you have to meet the university's entry criteria and funding rules. Hopefully, any vacancy created by the employer linked to an apprenticeship would have included the entry criteria, but funding rules change frequently so are assessed at the time of application.
Typically, degree apprenticeship candidates will need three A-levels (or equivalent) for a Level 6 apprenticeship. Level 7 programmes may require you to have a strong honours degree and potentially relevant work experience in the industry.
Additional entry requirements from the government include:
- A minimum of Grade 4 or C in GCSE Mathematics and English or equivalent (for equivalent qualifications please contact us)
- Be a UK/EU/EAA resident for at least three years prior to starting the course.
- Have left full-time education when the apprenticeship starts.
- Be at least 16 years old, but there is no upper age limit.
- Right to work in the UK.
What qualifications will I receive upon completion?
University of Cumbria degree apprenticeship programmes include qualifications such as foundation degree, bachelors degree, or postgraduate degree.
In addition, you will also achieve an apprenticeship certificate that is graded at pass, merit or distinction (depending on the End Point Assessment criteria), and some programmes also include professional accreditation for regulated professions such as nursing, paramedic or policing. Other programmes would give you the basis for professional body membership, such as the CMI or ILM
Will I get the student experience?
Our programmes vary considerably with some being campus based at one of our main campuses, some being based remotely at the employer's workplace and others being predominantly online. However you learn, you will build a network of peers who are all on the same learning journey and often in similar or complementary roles, bringing a shared learning and professional development experience.
All learners have full access to our systems, support and resources. As we are a dispersed campus institution, we are very much focused on the online provision of learning, access to e-books and online resources is standard. Our extensive Student Hub provides a wealth of advice, guidance and tools to help your learning experience.
How is the apprenticeship structured?
All degree apprenticeships at the University of Cumbria are aligned to an academic award, which could be a foundation, bachelor's or postgraduate degree. All learners will study academic modules, typically 20 credits each which build toward the respective award.
Each programme will develop evidence of professional work-based learning, where competencies are developed in work and evidenced in a portfolio. These form part of the evidence for End Point Assessment.
All apprentices have to evidence off-the-job-hours as a formal record of their learning and development. The amount will vary by programme and be a percentage of your personal contracted hours. Apprentices are asked to log these every month whilst undergoing formal training from day one to the point their reach Gateway.
Gateway is the point at which the University reviews all elements of the apprenticeship and confirms with the employer each learner is ready to enter the End Point Assessment.
End Point Assessment caries between programmes, some are integrated with the degree and the University acts as the End Point Assessment Organisation, others are external EPAs and the employer will choose which EPAO you use. The details of the End Point Assessment will be included in our course pages.
Programmes are a blend of formal teaching knowledge and skills, and the development of skills and behaviours in the workplace. We offer high-quality teaching, by industry-relevant tutors regardless of the programme. Teaching delivery might vary from day-release to blocks of learning, and might be delivered in a combination of face-to-face and online provision.
At your workplace, you will be supported by your employer. Exact arrangements and terminology are the responsibility of the employer but typically, you will be supported by a mentor who manages the relationship between the programme (via the University Liaison Tutor) and the employer. The University and the employer are bound by contract to work together to support you as an apprentice.
Whilst each degree apprenticeship programme is tailored to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship programme, the section provides an overview of the learner support available to all apprentices:
There will be an induction process for all learners to introduce them to the programme, teaching team and university services. This will take place prior to the learners commencing on the programme and aims to welcome them to the University of Cumbria, explore expectations and discuss any concerns or issues the learners may have.
You will also be allocated a Personal Tutor. Your Personal Tutor will be proactively involved in the delivery of your programme and will have contact with you throughout your time at the University. They will support your learning and development, including through tutorials, Progress Reviews and other support as outlined in the Personal Tutoring Policy.
Personal Development Planning
This has been embedded throughout the programme and is facilitated by a variety of approaches:-
- An e-Portfolio containing workbooks will enable you to provide evidence of your development throughout the programme ·
- Tripartite reviews will also support you with your development · Personal Tutor support
- Feedback from Academic assignments will highlight areas of good practice and feedforward identifying areas where you need to develop in future assignments ·
- End Point Assessment Preparation: to support your ongoing needs as you progress into your new role
Library and Academic Support (based in Information Services)
Module leaders will collaborate with Library and Academic Advisors to ensure that your reading and resource lists are current and items are available via the library discovery tool OneSearch. In order to maximise access, availability and usefulness, ebooks and electronic journal titles will, in most cases, be prioritised. You can access a wide range of electronic and print content using Onesearch and you can find out more about key texts, databases and journals for your subject by accessing the library’s subject resources webpages. Where appropriate, module reading and resource lists will be made available to you electronically using the University’s online reading and resource list system.
The Skills@Cumbria service can help support your academic skills and success throughout your programme. The service is delivered by a team of professional Library and Academic Advisors. It includes a suite of online self-help resources accessible 24/7 via the University’s website and Blackboard site. It also provides group and individual advice and guidance accessible through and alongside your course and by different means such as face to face, email or virtual.
IT and Technical Support
Technology is an invaluable asset when it comes to studying, so it’s important you know how to make the most out of the excellent facilities we have available. Our aim is to ensure you can access university electronic resources from anywhere or any device, whether on or off-campus.
The Student Hub is your one-stop gateway to all university systems, Outlook email, and OneDrive. Whether you consider yourself a computer expert or you’re not confident about your IT skills, we’re always around to ensure you get the level of support you need. We have a wealth of information and support available on the website and have a dedicated IT Service Desk where you can talk to someone by phone or log your question online from anywhere, at any time.
Student Support Services Student Support Services offer a wide range of support, including:
- Careers and employability
- Financial help
- Health and wellbeing
- Support for disabled apprentices and those with specific learning requirements.
We also offer mentoring by trained students which you can request at any point during your studies. We know that you want to get the most out of your programme, make the best use of your time and find or continue in the career you always dreamed of. Access university support and facilities easily and quickly via the website and/or via the Student Services guidance tile on the Student Hub. In addition to the range of guidance above, you have the opportunity to further develop your personal, academic and professional skills by taking part in a number of initiatives coordinated and delivered by professional services advisers.
Head Start to Apprenticeships
Head Start to Apprenticeships is a self-learning module that is completed online and at your own pace. The module gives new apprentices an opportunity to prepare for their transition into university study by starting to develop the academic skills and digital capabilities, as well as understand the apprenticeship processes, to help them become successful apprentices. A digital badge is generated for each finished unit and a complete set of badges results in a Certificate of Completion for Head Start to Apprenticeships. All apprentices are given the opportunity to register and complete Head Start once registered for their main programme of study. This course is free and available via Blackboard, the Virtual Learning Environment.
How is progress monitored?
The University uses an Apprenticeship Management System to create individual learner plans for each apprentice, which monitor progress through a series of time-bound tasks over the duration of the chosen programme. The system also provides an individual dashboard showing your progress with respect to the following elements:
- Academic modules passed
- Submission of monthly off-the-job-hours
- Evidence that knowledge, skills and behaviours are developed in line with the standard
- Any programme specific requirements needed to successfully reach End Point Assessment
The Apprenticeship Management System dashboard highlights whether a learner is on target or behind with all aspects of their apprenticeship. This progress is reviewed and managed through regular tripartite reviews.
What happen if my employment situation changes
If it is the job that you are unhappy with, whether this relates to the workplace, the duties or the business culture, it is possible to change jobs and continue with your apprenticeship course. Please contact the Apprenticeship Team to discuss your options
Approach to Breaks in Learning
Break in Learning
A break in learning occurs when an apprentice takes a period of leave from their work due to a change in circumstances, for example, medical treatment, maternity or paternity leave. Their training is paused for the duration of their break.
To qualify as a break in learning, the pause must be 4 weeks or longer and can last for up to a year. Breaks in learning must be agreed on by both employer and apprentice, with the agreement that the apprentice will return to the programme once the break-in learning has been completed.
The Government's apprenticeship funding guidance page details what is classified as a break in learning and there is a very helpful flow chart.
In the event of redundancy, an apprentice can port their apprenticeship to their new role, with the agreement of their new employer, if the new role is commenced within 12 weeks of the redundancy. If the new role is not commenced within 12 weeks then the apprentice will be withdrawn from the programme.
We will make reasonable efforts to find the apprentice a new employer.
If the apprentice finds a new role at a later date and wishes to resume their apprenticeship, with the agreement of the employer, the apprentice can re-apply to join the programme. Upon receipt of their new application, we will take into account previous learning and the apprentice could then re-join the programme at the appropriate stage.
We will support apprentices and employers during any changes to ensure all ESFA requirements are upheld.
Apprentices who are made redundant within six months of the final day of the practical period specified in the apprenticeship agreement may continue their training without being employed under an apprenticeship agreement, provided certain conditions are met.
Further guidance on redundancy can be found on the Government Apprenticeship website.
Covid 19 update:
The ESFA will keep under review whether the 12-week period should be extended.
In instances where a significant number of apprentices are made redundant (for example, because a large employer faces difficulties), the ESFA will attempt to provide exceptional practical support to the apprentices and training providers to secure alternative employers for the individuals. It is hoped that the Government's substantial package of financial support for business will prevent such significant redundancies, but the ESFA will keep arrangements under review and consider whether there are circumstances in which they may need to provide support to apprentices and training providers.
For individuals who are looking for apprenticeship opportunities at a degree level, they should focus on job adverts linked to apprenticeships, either by searching for opportunities by sector, geography or particular employers. There are some key sites where vacancies can be listed, these include:
UCAS Apprenticeship Vacancy Service
Specific employers will also advertise apprenticeship opportunities, including through many of the well-known jobs websites and through their own websites. Many will also advertise at jobs fairs.
We deliver a large number of allied health apprenticeships, you can find more information on the health careers website.