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Managing the quality of higher education in apprenticeships

Alison Felce (Department of Universities and Standards, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Gloucester, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 19 February 2019

Issue publication date: 15 May 2019




Traditionally, apprenticeships have been the domain of further education and skills training providers, predominately at pre-higher education levels where management, organisation, inspection and funding have little in common with those familiar to higher education. Higher level and degree apprenticeships have brought together different cultures and methods of designing, delivering and assessing knowledge, skills and behaviours, funding learners and learning providers, data reporting, quality management and its review or inspection. The purpose of this paper is to establish the primary concerns about managing quality in degree apprenticeships, the challenges the variances bring, how the challenges are being resolved and future work that may be required.


A review of a range of guidance and organisations involved in managing the quality of higher education in apprenticeships was undertaken. The primary focus is on the advice and guidance provided through the Quality Code and associated documentation, which are key to managing and assuring standards and quality in UK higher education. In addition, requirements and guidance provided through other bodies is considered along with the cross-sector groups charged with developing quality assurance processes for apprenticeships at all levels.


The paper shows a range of detailed guidance available to those entering the higher and degree apprenticeships arena and how the organisations involved in quality assurance of apprenticeships are working together to remove or mitigate concerns to ensure that quality is embedded and successfully managed.


Designing and delivering higher level and degree apprenticeships is a relatively new addition to UK higher education providers. There are long established practices to assure the quality and standards of UK higher education wherever and, however, it is delivered, in the UK, overseas and through online models. Apprenticeships across the UK have changed significantly over recent years, and new models, organisations and methods of working and funding have been introduced. This paper brings together key activity by the Quality Assurance Agency and other stakeholders to show how standards and quality can be managed and assured.



Felce, A. (2019), "Managing the quality of higher education in apprenticeships", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 141-148.



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