A-level students are missing out on free degrees

17 August 2017 -

degree optionEarn as you learn degree apprenticeships mean the qualification costs you nothing – but do you know about it?

Guest blogger Gabrielle Lane

As 300,000 A level students receive their results today, new research from the Chartered Management Institute has highlighted that many could miss out on places on the new breed of ‘earn as you learn’ degree apprenticeships.

Since 2015, students have been able to work in a paid role while studying for a degree in a number of professional fields. The cost is covered by employers through the new Apprenticeship Levy and means no tuition fees are due.


However, a survey of 1,004 UK parents shows there is a lack of parental awareness of the scheme. While 20% of parents know about it, the familiarity varies by social group. Just one in 10 (10%) parents from low socio-economic bands said they had heard of degree level apprenticeships, while one in four parents (26%) from highly-educated and highly-paid social groups were aware of the opportunity.

This could risk college-leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds being left behind, says Petra Wilton, CMI’s director of strategy, and one of the architects of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship:

“Degree apprenticeships are now at risk of becoming the preserve of the privileged,” she explains. “Parents are the biggest influence on their children’s career decisions, so a lack of parental knowledge will deprive promising students from all backgrounds of places on degree apprenticeships. We’re now in danger of higher apprenticeships quickly transforming from being perceived as an alternative route into employment for the less able, to being a highly attractive option out of reach to all but the elite. Schools and employers need to work with parents to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and help all young people to consider this new route to a degree and employment.”

Tempting for all

CMI’s survey of parents also revealed that of those who knew about it, seven in 10 (69%) believe degree apprenticeships represent better value for money than traditional university courses. Four in five (83%) said they would consider taking a degree apprenticeship if they were 18 again, while nearly nine in 10 (87%) believe a qualification from a professional body would make a student more employable.

One to watch

The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship is tipped to become one of the most subscribed degree apprenticeships. It was supported by the CMI and developed by 30 leading employers including Serco and Barclays.

For more information see the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship


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