Degree apprenticeships in the UK higher education institutions – are they viable? Integrative literature review

Rebecca Jane Quew-Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: Apprenticeships for higher education institutes (HEIs) at degree and postgraduate levels in the UK have been challenging to provide, requiring increasingly complex collaboration and investment. This questions longer-term viability, creating a new perspective investigating evidence of value and impact for UK HEIs. This integrative literature review examines existing apprenticeship literature and showcases new knowledge for HEIs to update and inform future decision-making. Knowledge created offers a new framework, an “apprenticeship knowledge-based checklist model” and a perspective to explore further. 

Design/methodology/approach: This integrative literature review examines apprenticeship provision viability for UK HEIs across several disciplines since commencement. 

Findings: Analysis of selected studies across three research themes critiques potential apprenticeship practice for HEIs: stakeholder collaboration, widening participation and work-integrated learning. Results provided a new integrated perspective via governance levels: strategic, academic department, and teaching team. 

Research limitations/implications: The research draws from multiple disciplines representing current literature in the HEI Apprenticeships field. However, the context in which programmes are delivered by HEIs and employers differs significantly, so factors continue to emerge. 

Practical implications: Practical implications drawn from these findings aim to cultivate dialogue before embarking/withdrawing from HEI Apprenticeship programmes. It offers employers guidance expectations when partnering with university providers. For global apprenticeship provisions, it offers a checklist for re-valuating practice. 

Originality/value: The research identified new knowledge implications from existing literature in a field experiencing rapid growth. It offers valuable contributions: a knowledge-based checklist model constructed for HEIs to evaluate existing and future viability provisions at each governance level. It is a catalyst for new practice approaches and an agenda for further research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning
Early online date13 Jun 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 13 Jun 2023


  • Degree apprenticeship
  • Employer-university collaboration
  • Impact evaluation
  • Social inclusion
  • Work-based learning
  • Work-integrated learning

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