Degree Apprenticeship Celebration Event November 2018

An employer's guide to degree apprenticeships

Find out how degree apprenticeships can boost the strength of your business and your workforce

What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships are an inexpensive way for your organisation to attract and retain talented employees, develop your workforce, fill skills gaps and improve your company's performance. They're suitable for all sizes of organisation, from small businesses to multinational corporations.

On a degree apprenticeship, apprentices come to university to learn skills they can apply straightaway in their jobs. When they complete their apprenticeship, they'll have a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

They'll study 1 day each week or fortnight on day release or do block release, which involves an intensive 4-day week, 3 times a year. They'll have access to our virtual learning environment, so they can study independently.

We launched our first degree apprenticeship in 2016. We now offer more than 10 degree-level apprenticeships with many more in development.

Browse our courses

How can degree apprenticeships help your business?

Find out what degree apprenticeships can offer you 

Degree apprenticeships can help you attract and retain talented employees, develop your workforce, fill skills gaps and improve your company's performance at low cost.

Are you an employer that pays the apprenticeship levy and are you getting the most from it?

The apprenticeship levy covers the full costs of the training and the employer pays the apprentices salary.

The apprentice has to be released for 20 per cent of their time so usually one day a week at the University and then four days a week in the work place.

Recruiting an apprentice gives you access to motivated, loyal individuals, with 71 per cent of apprentices staying with the employer they did their apprenticeship with. It gives you access to a much wider talent pool.

We can help you get there. We can help with job descriptions, shortlisting and interviewing, giving you everything that you need to make sure that you're ready.

Degree apprenticeships are not just about attracting new talent, they can work for your own staff too.

They can fill skills gaps, further develop your team and improve your organisations performance.

I think there are a lot of benefits of  hiring an apprenticeships into any business. It's really allowed us to access a new group of people to bring into the business to help them learn their skills but also to help us be more effective when we're working with young people.

At the University of Portsmouth, we offer level 6 undergraduate and level 7 postgraduate degree apprenticeships. These include Civil Engineering, MBA Senior Leadership, Business Management and Architecture. We're always looking to develop more degree apprenticeships which work with you. We work with a number of big employers. These include the multinational companies and small medium enterprises.

I hope that's given you food for thought. If you'd like to know more about our growing portfolio of degree apprenticeships, contact us today.

Why partner with us?

We have strong relationships with business and industry through research programmes, innovation and knowledge transfer partnerships, undergraduate job placements and graduate employment schemes.

This means we can develop Bachelor's and Master's degree apprenticeships that meet the needs of your business and your workforce. We can also help you recruit talent and fill skills gaps by putting you in touch with talented people who want to do a degree apprenticeship.

Funding degree apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships are an affordable way to develop your staff because they’re funded by your apprenticeship levy account or heavily subsidised by the Government.

Levy-paying organisations

If your organisation has an annual pay bill of more than £3 million, you can use your apprenticeship levy funding to pay for Degree or Master's apprenticeships.

Organisations that don't pay the levy

If your organisation doesn’t pay the apprenticeship levy because its annual pay bill is less than £3 million, the Government subsidises up to 95% of the cost of degree apprenticeships.

If your business has fewer than 50 employees, the Government pays 100% of the cost if, at the start of the apprenticeship, the degree apprentice is:

  • aged 16-18
  • aged 19-24 and has a local authority education, health and care plan (EHC plan)

When a degree apprentice is aged 16-18 or is aged 19-24 with an EHC plan, both the employer and training provider will get an extra incentive payment of £1,000 each to support the apprentice in their studies.

Other costs

There may be some minor costs not covered by Government funding. These costs vary depending on which degree apprenticeship programme your employees do.

We'll help you understand what these costs are before you set up a degree apprenticeship programme with us.

Degree apprentice salaries

Most degree apprenticeship salaries start at £12,000–£18,000 a year. This is set by the employer, but apprentices must earn the minimum wage.

Existing employees usually stay on their current salaries when they do a degree apprenticeship.

Benefits for employers

As well as their low cost, there are many other benefits of degree apprenticeships:

Develop talent and fill skills gaps

Degree apprenticeships enhance existing employees’ knowledge and skills so they can progress to more senior roles.

Within a short period of time, Georgina has gained a lot of confidence and is corresponding with people at the highest level.

Pam Lovell, Low Carbon Constructions

Degree apprenticeship requirements

To provide degree apprenticeships, you'll need to provide your degree apprentices with a formal contract of employment and pay them a salary that's at least the same as the minimum wage.

Apprentices must also spend at least 20% of their contracted hours learning away from their normal day-to-day work environment. This applies in periods when they won't be attending university, such as during the summer break.

To be eligible for a degree apprenticeship, apprentices need to have lived in the EU for three years at the start of their apprenticeship. They must also have the right to work in the UK and must meet the University's entry requirements.

We do an initial assessment with apprentices to ensure they are at the right level of English and maths to complete the degree and we offer extra support to apprentices with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Apprentices also get access to the same personal and academic support services as full-time university students.

Incentives for employers hiring new apprentices

From August 2021 until 31 January 2022, businesses taking on new apprentices will be eligible for incentive payments of up to £2,000.

There will be 2 levels of payment, based on age. For apprentices aged 16-24 the payment will be £2,000 and for apprentices aged 25 and over the payment will be £1,500. The payment will be made directly to employers in 2 equal instalments, at day 90 and the last day of the apprenticeship.

The apprentice must:

  • Be a new employee to the business
  • Have an employment start date from 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022
  • Have an apprenticeship start date from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022
  • Not have been employed by the employer within the 6 months prior to the contract start date

There's no limit on the number of incentive payments that an employer can claim for eligible apprentices. has released a step-by-step guide aimed at employers for more information.

Enquire about degree apprenticeships

If you're interested in supporting an employee on a degree apprenticeship, call us on +44 (0)23 9284 3865 to discuss how we can work together.

Once you've confirmed that you're willing to support your employee in your studies, we'll ask them to complete an application form so we can fully assess their academic and professional suitability for the course. 

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