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Driving social mobility? Competitive collaboration in degree apprenticeship development

Jessica Bradley (Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK)
Claire Newhouse (Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK)
Nadira Mirza (Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 23 January 2019

Issue publication date: 15 May 2019




Apprenticeship reforms have paved the way for higher education (HE) providers, including universities, to become Degree Apprenticeships (DA) training providers, creating new work-based HE routes. The changes aim to generate a new cohort of skilled individuals to support national economic growth, as well as improve levels of social mobility. The purpose of this paper is to focus on an HE partnership project which resulted in a number of collaborative models for development that address these aims.


The paper focuses on qualitative interviews undertaken during the process of creating DAs through a consortium of HE providers. It considers the collaborative relationships which were built on and which developed across the course of the short-term project. It assesses the concept of competitive collaboration and its link to social mobility.


The paper considers the various manifestations of collaboration which supported the DA developments in a competitive environment: collaboration as embedded; collaboration as negotiation; and collaboration as a driver for social mobility and social equality.


Working collaboratively across HE providers sought to raise the status of apprenticeships, provide opportunities for the development of new degree apprenticeship curricula and enable practitioners to establish these as a new route into HE. This paper contributes to what is currently limited knowledge about the impact of degree apprenticeships on social mobility and equality.



Bradley, J., Newhouse, C. and Mirza, N. (2019), "Driving social mobility? Competitive collaboration in degree apprenticeship development", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 164-174.



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