Full-time Degree Programme vs a Degree Apprentices


Know your options for higher education but not sure which way to go? These are the questions you need to ask yourself in order to help you make those crucial decisions.

With a constant flow of invites to Open Days and UCAS fairs, thinking about what you’ll do next can often be overwhelming. Do you want to move away from home and join university, or does your future contain something a little more hands-on?

The main thing you need to think about when looking at what path to take is to consider what is right for you; so, there’s a few questions you need to ask yourself:

1. What type of degree would I like to study?

Traditional degree programmes at university tend to focus on a subject, much like you will have seen before while studying for your GCSEs and A-Levels. You can progress your studies further with a degree programme and explore avenues of the topic that perhaps you haven’t experienced before. However, degree apprenticeships are only available in a specific range of subjects. This is due to the nature of the programme, the degree that you study must relate to the job role that you are fulfilling.

2. Am I good at managing my time?

Time management is one of the most crucial skills when completing a degree apprenticeship. Balancing a full-time job role with a full-time degree is not easy, let alone the extra study and balance of a social life required. So, you have to get the balance right. When will you do your reading/independent study? When will you factor in time to see your friends? Do you have any other extracurricular commitments? These are all points of consideration when deciding whether you would be able to cope with a demanding degree apprenticeship programme.

As part of a traditional degree programme, time management is still required to meet deadlines for the course; however, you’ll have much more time to socialise and fulfil extracurricular commitments with a traditional degree programme as you will have much more free time outside of your lectures and seminars.

3. Do I really enjoy having longer holidays?

A traditional degree follows on from what you’re used to at school: holidays at Easter and Christmas. You work in semesters (terms) and get that lovely long summer holiday each year. However, as a degree apprentice, you have a full-time job. Therefore, your employer will offer you an annual leave entitlement as part of your contract; you can then take annual leave days throughout the year which you can agree with your line manager, like all other employees.

4. Which application process am I willing to invest my time in?

When applying to university, there is one system (UCAS) where you apply to five universities simultaneously in a single application. Many schools and colleges help you with this process and each year thousands of students apply this way.

For a degree apprenticeship, there is no centralised application process where you apply for degree apprenticeships and then get assigned an employer and programme. You need to put in the time initially to seek and apply for apprenticeship programmes individually. Effectively, each apprenticeship is a job application, so, you’ll need to tailor each application to the company that you are applying to and not have one generic application form. This will require time and effort, so you need to be willing to put in the work.

5. How important are my extracurricular activities?

As mentioned in the time management section, extracurricular activities are something that you could invest lots of time in as a traditional degree student as you’ll have a lot of free time outside of study. However, as a degree apprentice, it’ll be much trickier to find that balance and commit to whatever extracurricular activity you aspire to complete. That is not to say that a degree apprentice has no social life or hobbies, but you have to prioritise and find the time to fit these activities in.

6. What does each route cost?

Undergraduate university fees (2019/20) are generally £9,250 per year in the UK for a full-time undergraduate programme, meaning most students take out a loan to cover both this and living costs. If you’re a degree apprentice, your employer pays for your university fees out of their Apprenticeship Levy pot, so your tuition fees are covered. Furthermore, the apprentice is paid a salary, allowing you to become financially independent much quicker!

7. What university experience am I looking for?

If you are looking for a university experience that consists of moving away from home, living on campus, meeting new people and purely studying, a traditional degree programme is right for you. That’s not to say you will not get any work experience because you can through internships and other forms of industry engagement. Pearson Business School offers guaranteed internships (subject to certain criteria) to students as part of their degree. If you’re looking to get straight into the world of work, earn a salary while studying and gain three or more years of work experience ahead of graduation, a degree apprenticeship programme might be best for you.

For more information about Pearson Business School’s degrees or degree apprenticeship programmes, visit pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk.

Apprenticeships career advice apprenticeship advice University Degree Apprenticeships