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The impact of degree apprenticeships: analysis, insights and policy recommendations

Raheel Nawaz (Staffordshire University, Stoke-On-Trent, UK)
Ernest Edem Edifor (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Samantha Reive Holland (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Qi Cao (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Leo Shixiong Liu (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 20 December 2022

Issue publication date: 30 October 2023




Degree apprenticeships in the UK have grown exponentially since they were introduced. While claims and speculations about their impact have been made by high-profile politicians, lobbyists and training providers, the evidence base for these claims has never been systematically scrutinised. The purpose of this paper is to analyse and present up-to-date peer-reviewed evidence on the impact of degree apprenticeships on social mobility and productivity and their influence on future policy.


The authors critically and systematically review over 4,000 data points from relevant sources and synthesise the results qualitatively and quantitatively with a combined method approach. Quantitative evidence has been aggregated where possible and tested for statistical significance. Qualitative evidence has been critically reviewed and comparatively analysed.


The analysis reveals that there is a shortage of depth and breadth of concrete and peer-reviewed evidence on the impact of degree apprenticeships. Nevertheless, existing data demonstrate that degree apprenticeships are meeting their intended purpose of contributing positively to the UK Government’s high-level goals for productivity and social mobility. They are an alternative route into higher education and serve as a vital talent pipeline providing opportunities for young people, existing employees and learners from diverse backgrounds.


This paper provides the first systematic and peer-reviewed synthesis of the impact of degree apprenticeships. It brings together existing evidence and statistically validates outcomes to inform researchers, educators, training providers, policymakers and other stakeholders in their recommendations moving forward.



The authors would like to acknowledge the input and guidance of the late Dr Saeed Ul Hassan in refining the manuscript.


Nawaz, R., Edifor, E.E., Holland, S.R., Cao, Q. and Liu, L.S. (2023), "The impact of degree apprenticeships: analysis, insights and policy recommendations", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 372-386.



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