UCAS research shows students struggle to access information on apprenticeships

For immediate release: Wednesday 26 May 2021

Insight published today by UCAS indicates that over half of students looking to apply to higher education in 2022 are interested in apprenticeships, but find it difficult to access the relevant information that they need about them.

A third of students at schools and only half in colleges said that they were not told about apprenticeships, despite there being a legal requirement placed on schools to do so, known as the Baker clause in England.

The research highlights that more needs to be done to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships - only 8% of students surveyed associated apprenticeships with leading to a good job. An apprenticeship offers on-the-job training and is a great path to a good career in a variety of sectors, yet only 4% of students associate the word ‘prestigious’ with apprenticeships compared with 76% for a traditional university degree.

This research provides an opportunity to better explain what an apprenticeship is and UCAS is currently working on plans to bolster its offer for would-be apprentices, aligning with its services for prospective undergraduates.

UCAS intends to take a key role in the progression of the recently published Skills and Post-16 Education Bill through Parliament. Ensuring the wealth of information on ucas.com about the all the different pathways available is more accessible, so that students can make informed choices, is crucial and UCAS is working hard to deliver this over the next 12-months and beyond.

Apprenticeships listed on the ‘Career Finder’ tool of the UCAS site were viewed over 1.2 million times in the past twelve months, so it is not a case of ‘starting from scratch’. UCAS provides high-quality careers advice, information, and guidance resources to help students during their exciting discovery phase, facilitating and signposting the diverse routes to higher education. UCAS’ goal is for its service to be as strong for would-be apprentices as it is for prospective undergraduates, allowing students to explore their options side by side in a truly comparable manner.

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said: “UCAS is about much more than applying to an undergraduate degree - we provide information and support across the full range of post-18 opportunities. But more needs to be done to shake off the outdated stigma or misplaced snobbery associated with apprenticeships, given they are a great start to any career.

“We recognise students have more choice than ever before, but navigating the information available can be challenging for both students and advisers. UCAS aims to be the go-to place for all post-secondary options and enable students to navigate apprenticeship opportunities side by side with undergraduate courses.  We will also play a core role in delivering the ambition set out in the Skills Bill announced this month by the government.”


UCAS Press Office

01242 545 469



Notes for editors

UCAS surveyed 1,165 responses and responses were then weighted by age, gender, socio economic status, school type, region of UK (England only) in line with the proportions on the UCAS database, for which the data was taken from UCAS Undergraduate Sector-Level End of Cycle Data Resources 2020.

For a full copy of the report, download Where next? Improving the journey to becoming an apprentice (184 KB).

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.

Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college or an apprenticeship. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies and employers, including apprenticeships.

We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all of our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.