Universities and employers need to do more to ensure that degree apprenticeship opportunities reach a more diverse mix of learners.
The Office for Students (OfS), the new HE regulator, looked at the profile of 1,750 students starting degree apprenticeships in the 2016-17 academic year, the second cohort of degree apprentices after the scheme was introduced in 2015.
The figures show that more men take up degree apprenticeships than women and there are lower proportions from minority ethnic groups, compared with entrants on similar HE courses.
However, the data also shows that a third of degree apprenticeship students come from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, which is slightly higher than the proportion entering similar full-time higher education courses.
'Embed equality and diversity'
The OfS has now urged universities and employers to improve access to degree apprenticeship opportunities so they are available to all who could benefit from them.
OfS chief executive Nicola Dandridge said it was important that these opportunities were made available to students from all backgrounds, and it was disappointing to see that female and BAME students are not yet equally represented.
She added: “It’s crucial, though, that employers work with universities to ensure that principles of equality and diversity are embedded in their recruitment processes so that the profile of degree apprentices reflects the diversity of the whole population.”
The OfS will now carry out further analysis comparing degree apprenticeships with the rest of the apprenticeship system to test their value to learners, employers and the wider economy.