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QAA shares learning from Degree Apprenticeships review in Wales

Date: October 5 - 2021

QAA has shared some of the key findings from the review of Degree Apprenticeships which it carried out earlier this year on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

The review took place from March-May 2021 and focused on HEFCW-funded degree apprenticeships in three priority subject areas delivered across eight lead providers in Wales. It aimed to identify elements of good practice and areas for enhancement in each lead provider, and to make recommendations for the future delivery of degree apprenticeships in Wales.

The review focused on five areas:

  • Design and development of programmes
  • Modes of delivery
  • Learning and teaching
  • Supporting apprentice achievement
  • Assessment.

Among the key recommendations made by the report are that full recognition should be given to the distinctive nature of Degree Apprenticeships and that apprentices should be provided with support and guidance materials that are tailored to the distinct nature of the provision and its delivery.

The review also identifies a number of areas of good practice across the sector including the level of engagement with employers in the design, operation and flexibility of work-based learning opportunities, and the responsiveness of providers to ensure the continuation of apprenticeship programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The review resulted in an unpublished report for each key provider, all of which were shared with HEFCW.

QAA’s Executive Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive, Alastair Delaney, said: ‘This report identifies distinct areas of good practice and opportunities for enhancement across HEFCW-funded degree apprenticeship provision in Wales. QAA was delighted to undertake this review and looks forward to working with HEFCW and the Welsh higher education sector in implementing the recommendations from the report in order to enhance the academic experience of degree apprentices in Wales.’

HEFCW’s Chief Executive, Dr David Blaney, said: ‘As we, the higher education regulator, administer the degree apprenticeships fund, employers can be confident that degree apprenticeships will be subject to the same rigorous quality assurance as other higher education provision in Wales. This is why we commissioned the report.

‘We can be heartened by the findings of the review that, in the main, providers and partners really understand how to deliver a degree apprenticeship. As relatively recent additions to the Welsh higher education portfolio, the report provides constructive feedback for providers to improve the experience of degree apprentices more generally.’

The full report is available on the QAA website.