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Degree or Degree Apprenticeship? Which should you choose?

02 October, 2018Andreas Beckwith

two-women-speaking-at-deskUniversity was once the career path of choice for students finishing A-levels and aspiring for skilled employment, but this is no longer the case in today’s world.  Now there are opportunities to do a degree apprenticeship which offers you a way into industry, and combines classroom learning with practical experience and gives you a degree at the end of it.  So, which option is better?

The answer is unsurprisingly, it depends on your circumstances and what you want to do.  The rise of degree apprenticeships is offering school-leavers more options, but the traditional route of university still has several advantages. 

Why University?

The traditional university degrees have three main advantages over degree apprenticeships:

  • Course variety

    Traditional university degrees offer much greater variety.  You cannot study humanities degrees as a degree apprenticeship (at least not at the moment, but the programme is still in its infancy, so that could change in the future).  There are also some careers like medicine, academia and law require a traditional degree by default.

  • Career flexibility

    If you are not sure exactly what you want to do when you finish studying, a traditional degree path would likely be better for you, it gives you the time to think about your future career path while studying and learning valuable skills.  Degree apprenticeships in general are more specific to one area and set you on a fixed career path.

  • Geographical selection

    Universities are dotted all around the country, so if you wanted to live in a particular region while you study, university might be a better option for you, as degree apprenticeships are limited to universities that are taking part in the apprenticeship scheme.

    Why Degree Apprenticeships?

    Degree apprenticeships have some comparative advantages against the traditional university route: 

  • Cost

    Probably the biggest advantage is that degree apprenticeships are free. At the end of a set period, usually between 4 to 6 years, you will have a degree equally as valid as a traditional university degree, all for free.  University students on the other hand pay tuition fees of over £9,000 per year, plus accommodation costs.  

  • Work Experience

    Another big advantage of degree apprenticeships is that you work while you study, and gain real work experience.  Students who take the traditional university route only get their first taste of industry when they graduate, but with degree apprenticeships candidates already have good work experience when they finish.  Degree apprenticeship candidates are also in a great position to gain employment with the company that trained them, with several years’ work experience, and having been taught by the company themselves. 

  • Increased accessibility

As the world changes, jobs that were once associated with degrees are becoming accessible to people doing degree apprenticeships.  A number of career paths are accessible through the degree apprenticeship route, like accountancy, engineering, and of course banking and finance too.  Our Associate Dean Hema Tank recently wrote an article recently on apprenticeships in banking talking about the growing popularity of apprenticeships and the value they give both students and employers.  To see the careers available via the degree apprenticeship programme, and the universities that are affiliated with them, take a look at the following list.

So which path do I choose?

Both paths offer you great opportunities to learn useful skills to boost your career prospects.  If you are decided on a certain career path and want to combine study with practical experience, then a degree apprenticeship could well be for you.  Apprenticeships are done at companies (although not all companies offer apprenticeship programmes) and if you do well, it can lead to a career in that company.  If you aren’t yet sure what you want to do, or if you want to learn research skills, then university is probably the better path for you.  The good news is that both paths are well-regarded and can offer you good prospects for your future.

For more information on our degree programmes, click on our undergraduate degrees page, and if you are interested in finding out more about our apprenticeship programmes, visit our apprenticeship page.