Degree apprenticeships – first introduced in 2015 – enable apprentices to split their time between university study and the workplace and, as with other apprenticeships, the cost of course fees are shared between government and employers.
A range of employers – of varying sizes – are already working with universities to offer degree apprenticeships, including Mercedes-Benz, Nestlé, IBM, Airbus and Transport for London.
The report is based on a survey of 66 universities on degree apprenticeship provision in England. It also includes feedback from employers about why they find degree apprenticeships beneficial.
There will be a 658% increase in degree apprentice entrants – from 640 in 2015-16 to 4,850 in 2017-18 (totalling 7,611 across the three years)
88% of universities said their apprentices are mostly based locally
91% of universities surveyed are actively involved with degree apprenticeships
Degree apprenticeships are addressing key skills shortages, with chartered management, digital and technology solutions, and engineering representing the top three areas of provision
Degree apprenticeships provide opportunities for people who might not have considered university – including part-time and mature students whose numbers have dropped drastically in recent years.
The survey also asked universities to list the benefits and challenges of delivering degree apprenticeships. Benefits included the fact that students' fees are paid for and employers' skills needs are more closely met. There were concerns about the continuing lack of awareness among some employers and the public about degree apprenticeships.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: "Universities are constantly striving to be flexible in the kind of qualifications they offer to meet the needs of students and employers. Degree apprenticeships go a long way to addressing this.
"Many people feel they have been left behind in the drive to increase higher level skills in recent years. Degree apprenticeships are an excellent way to get to these harder-to-reach groups while, at the same time, ensuring that what we deliver on campus meets the needs of students, the local area and its employers.
"The report shows that there is a still long way to go in communicating to students and employers how degree apprenticeships work and the mutual benefits. We would urge the government to work with us to do more here as part of its industrial strategy.
"The artificial dividing line between academic and vocational education is gradually disappearing. Degree apprenticeships build on the work that universities already do to deliver skills that employers need."
The report has been published to coincide with National Apprenticeships Week, which takes place from 6–10 March 2017.