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Degree and Higher Level Apprenticeships: An Empirical Investigation of Stakeholder Perceptions of Challenges and Opportunities

Mulkeen, J and Abdou, HAH and Leigh, J and Ward, P (2017) Degree and Higher Level Apprenticeships: An Empirical Investigation of Stakeholder Perceptions of Challenges and Opportunities. Studies in Higher Education. ISSN 0307-5079

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore the challenges and opportunities of designing and delivering Degree and Higher Level Apprenticeships (D&HLAs) at levels 4 - 7 from a multi-stakeholder perspective namely employers, Universities, independent training organisations and professional bodies. 27 face to face interviews were undertaken and thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data. The following three themes emerged from the data analysis: programme design; programme delivery; and graduate attributes. We conclude that whilst there are increasing numbers of trailblazer groups developing higher level standards, the uptake of apprenticeships at these levels remains relatively low. Although stakeholders support the principle of D&HLAs, we identify a number of challenges and opportunities facing those who seek to successful introduction these programmes. Our policy recommendations include the need for all stakeholders to work collaboratively to co-create a flexible system to support the validity and relevance of D&HLAs. This will include streamlining and mapping the variety of qualifications currently available in order to promote a platform for parity of both esteem and opportunity for those achieving degree qualifications through the apprenticeship route.

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