What's the difference between doing a degree at uni and a degree apprenticeship?

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Both routes offer the opportunity to gain a full degree qualification, but there are key differences:

  • Apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace, and are employed throughout the course. There is a wide range of university degree courses that include work placements as part of the course, and work/vocational learning as well as academic study.
  • Traditional degrees offer a much broader choice of courses, subjects, subject combinations, and the range of modules you can cover, and you can apply for courses at a wide range of universities and colleges in towns and cities located all over the UK. However, degree apprenticeships are limited to universities working with employers, the employers' locations, and the course content and learning are industry-specific.
  • Degree apprenticeships are focused on developing the skills and knowledge needed for specific jobs and careers. While some apprenticeships may lead to careers with opportunities to work across a range of sectors and business types (e.g. the business-related apprenticeships), they are primarily intended to qualify apprentices to work in particular sectors.
  • Traditional degree courses offer a wide range of career prospects. Some are focused on particular professions, and there are still many careers that require traditional degrees which cannot be attained with a degree apprenticeship. Others offer more options after graduation, with students going into a wide range of jobs and career destinations.
  • Both routes are highly regarded by employers, and traditional graduates are sought after by employers who place high value the depth of knowledge, skills, and learning which graduates from degree courses offer.
  • The experience of student life will be different for each route. Traditional, on-campus learning with the social and wider student life it offers, can be particularly important to some students. While degree apprentices do experience some elements of campus life, it's different and combined with additional work-based experiences.
  • Financial differences are clear – degree apprenticeship training fees are funded by the government and the employer, and apprentices are paid a wage throughout the apprenticeship, so degree apprentices can graduate debt-free. Studying a traditional degree will cost students their tuition fees (of around £9,000 per year) plus living expenses. Student loans, bursaries, and scholarships are available, and you don’t start to repay the debt until you earn a minimum of £21,000 per year.
  • The earning potential of both degree apprentices and university graduates is high – significantly higher than non-graduates. However, this varies depending on the job or career you go into.