Degree Apprenticeships in Higher Education
: Improving Understanding and Practice in Work-Integrated Learning

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Degree Apprenticeships (DAs) seek to address the knowledge, skills, and behavioural needs of UK professions. Highlighted in the Richard Review (2012), DAs facilitate
university-employer collaboration, widen participation in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), and increase work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities. In 2017, to boost employer participation, the UK government introduced a levy to fund apprenticeships, including degree and postgraduate levels; a logical solution to enhance skill development through WIL. Despite prior literature deeming that stakeholders find DAs complex, many share a mutual desire for success.

This compilation thesis critically investigates the complexities of DAs in southern England from stakeholders' perspectives, offering insights into collaborative WIL practices and partnership sustainability. It comprises four articles examining the experiences of employers (ambassadors, line managers, mentors), apprentices, and HEIs through a WIL-focused lens.

Using qualitative research methods, the leading article initiates action learning sets with DA ambassadors to bridge gaps between university learning and workplace application, identifying issues like line manager roles, learner identity, and stakeholder value. Subsequent articles delve into these issues, identifying line manager criticality, Degree Apprentice Identity (DAI) model construction to modify teaching interventions, and exploring DA viability for HEI.
Collectively, the articles build on existing frameworks, raising our understanding of WIL thriving on collaborative relationships; accountable partnerships, mutual role and responsibility comprehension, commitment to defined competencies and investment. This informs practitioners, policymakers, and academics, advocating this community actively shares knowledge and practices for future viability.
Date of Award21 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorStephen Williams (Supervisor), Cheryl Brook (Supervisor) & Alexandra Vivien Tymon (Supervisor)

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