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Northumbria University to expand degree apprenticeship provision

10th November 2016

Northumbria University has announced a major £240,000 investment to expand its degree apprenticeships into the architecture, surveying and construction, digital and leadership and management sectors.

The University has successfully secured £140,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to expand its existing work-based learning provision.

Northumbria was one of the first UK universities to offer government-supported degree apprenticeships. These specialist courses are co-designed with employers to ensure they are providing the skills that industry is looking for. Students enrolled on degree apprenticeships are employed and divide their time between the workplace and flexible university study. While learning, they are also earning and gaining real experience of the job and will graduate with a full bachelors or master’s level degree.

Northumbria already has significant experience in working with employers to ensure its students graduate with the skills they need and the new funding will allow them to further expand this work. Hundreds of organisations work with the University and more than 50 professional bodies accredit courses, meaning that students graduate with industry-recognised professional accreditation, as well as their degree. This has helped Northumbria to be ranked within the top 10 in the UK for the number of graduates employed in professional roles.

The University is already working with national organisations including H.M. Revenue & Customs, Balfour Beatty and Tech Partnership to develop standards for degree apprenticeships. Last September, it launched its first undergraduate degree apprenticeship course in Digital and Technology Solutions, with 18 apprentices now enrolled. It is hoped that this number will increase to 130 across a range of degree apprenticeships in 2017, and to almost 300 by 2020.

Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Northumbria University, led the bid to secure the HEFCE funding. He explained: “Graduate employability is a huge priority for Northumbria University, and clearly degree apprenticeships support our ambition of delivering high quality programmes that meet learner and employer demand. They also offer new ways into higher education. Half of our current cohort of degree apprentices are mature learners who now have a pathway to higher level skills and higher paid employment.

“The funding will allow the University to develop degree apprenticeships in the areas of surveying and construction, digital skills software, business and data analysis and leadership and management over the next four years. It will also allow us to work in partnership with employers and professional bodies to develop new standards in emerging markets and support our online learning provision to make our courses more convenient and attractive to employers and learners across the UK.”

Ross -14 - EmbedStudent Ross Wilkinson, has just completed his first year of a degree apprenticeship at Northumbria University studying BSc Digital and Technology Solutions and has found the course has opened some new opportunities.

The 27-year-old H.M. Revenue & Customs employee said: “The course allows me to study a degree while in full-time employment, giving me the opportunity to implement new skills as I learn them. It has allowed me to improve and refine those skills, using industry best practice. The programming module has been challenging and is taught by someone who is passionate about programming, making this module the most fun.”

Mark Atkinson, Person Tax and Test Design and Development Lead at H.M. Revenue & Customs, added: ‘‘Ross has embraced this fantastic opportunity and has had a very successful first year of the course. He is learning new and modern technologies and skills which he is bringing back into Chief Digital and Information Office (CDIO), helping us to develop our digital capability and wider transformation vision. The partnership with the Northumbria University and the local links with HMRC are developing the regional excellence and professionalism that we are committed towards’. 

Northumbria University works with businesses regionally, nationally and internationally to develop and deliver bespoke, accredited courses that fit the needs of the business. Any business wanting further information on how it can work with the University, or who would be interested in enrolling its staff on degree apprenticeship courses, should visit: www.northumbria.ac.uk/degreeapprenticeships.

-Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships work, that’s why we’ve launched degree apprenticeships that give people a real chance to earn while you learn putting you on the fast-track to a top career.

“This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design high quality degree apprenticeships that give people a ladder of opportunity, more choice and help shape Britain to become an apprentice nation.”

Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said: ‘The development of degree apprenticeships will provide more people with the chance to study in higher education and work at the same time, and in doing so to fulfil their educational and career ambitions. Employers will be able to use their apprenticeship levy funds to access degree apprenticeships from a range of higher education providers, and the fund will support institutions in preparing for the increased demand that will follow the levy’s introduction from April 2017.’

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