Rumaysah Khan is currently doing a Level 7 Solicitor Degree Apprenticeship with law firm Eversheds Sutherland, in London.
After finishing her A Levels, Rumaysah was keen to do an apprenticeship but, to keep her options open, applied to university to study an undergraduate law degree – and got offered more places than she’d bargained for, including one at the University of Oxford.
Rumaysah Khan – Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship, Eversheds Sutherland

I really wanted to do an apprenticeship

"I really wanted to fast track into the profession. I’m not so concerned about learning about the theory behind law and more interested about the practical side, so an apprenticeship is perfect for me.

"However, I applied to do both an apprenticeship and university, because if I didn't get one, I would pick the other option. University was my back-up plan and I got offered places at SOAS University of London, LSE, Durham, and University of Oxford.

I got into most of my choices. it was hard turning them all down, but I knew that I wanted to do an apprenticeship.

I turned down my place at Oxford

"It was a really big deal when I had to turn those places down. I did re-think my decision many times, and talked to my parents about it, but I definitely felt more inclined to accept the apprenticeship, just because it works in my favour in so many ways.

"If you're someone that truly loves the idea of study and loves that really in-depth knowledge about it, then university makes sense. I work better practically, so learning what I'm doing in my own time and then putting that directly into practice. It really engraves it in my memory and makes it feel more real than learning everything in theory.

A few years ago, if you’d have said that I was going to do an apprenticeship, I’d have been thinking of manual apprenticeships, but actually there are many degree apprenticeships out there now.

My parents were supportive – in the end!

"My parents were quite traditional in the sense that they thought it was university or nothing else. Explaining to them that I wanted to do an apprenticeship came as a shock, but I also think they didn't know much about them.

"It did take a while for my parents to come round, because it's just not something that you instantly know about unless you've been told about it directly from someone that's done it or someone that's doing it.

What I love about my apprenticeship

"Coming straight out of sixth form, I was worried about being thrown into it too much and that work would become overwhelming, but it's been really nice because everyone at the company knows about the apprenticeship scheme.

"They make sure I'm not given anything that I'm not able to do and that I have the support I need. I'm kind of put at the same level as the trainees and join in with them and what they're doing. And it doesn't feel overwhelming at all.

It is a big commitment but it’s worth it for me

"Going from A levels and then starting this career, I made that decision at 18 and it’s a big commitment. Mine is a degree apprenticeship over six years. For four years I'm studying, and I'll specialise in one thing and then after those four years I'll be equivalent to a trainee – as if I'd come out of university.

"Then I’ll do six-month rotations in the last two years. After those six years I’ll be able to look for a role here and decide which specialism I’d like to pursue.

I definitely don't feel like I've missed out on any social life.

I’m still getting a social life

"When I came to weighing up going to university and doing an apprenticeship, there was another reason why I felt like I didn't want to do an apprenticeship, which was the fact your social life might be hindered. But now I'm here I don't see how that would be the case at all.

"You’re working with trainees who’ve just come out of university and they're all really nice and we have lots of social events and parties. I definitely don't feel like I've missed out on any social life. I can still attend events that are at my friends’ universities, and I still meet up with my friends that are at other universities.

I’m not in debt

"If you add up all the years doing exams, training contracts and the LPC (the final vocational stage of training that you need to become a solicitor), apprenticeships actually take less time in general and there's more job security that way.

"Also, you’re not paying student fees and university fees when you're doing an apprenticeship. In fact, you're being paid, which is a big bonus, especially for someone like me. As a Muslim, taking out a student loan is always more challenging, so paying for university is something that's quite difficult and I didn’t want to burden my parents with the cost."

Top tips when deciding between apprenticeships and degrees

  1. Consider how you like to learn: If you love the idea of studying and enjoy classroom learning, then university might be right for you. Apprenticeships are great if you like the idea of studying and working at the same time and putting theory into practice.
  2. Consider applying for apprenticeships and university at the same time: If you aren't sure which option might be the right fit for you, it’s good to keep your options open. Nothing is stopping you from applying for university and apprenticeships simultaneously.
  3. Do lots of research: Get as much information as you can on both options before deciding. Visit uni open days and read up about the course you would be studying, browse apprenticeship vacancies and find out more about apprenticeships to help you make the right decision.