Open University to offer degree apprenticeships

The distance learning institution plans to offer three degree apprenticeship courses in the coming months

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The Open University (OU) plans to become a major provider of degree apprenticeships as part of a “significant reorientation" of its activities.

Three degree apprenticeship courses will be launched by the institution in the coming months, vice-chancellor Peter Horrocks told Times Higher Education.

Students on the degree apprenticeships courses will combine their studies with working for an employer, who will pay their tuition fees in full.

The degree apprenticeship courses could give the OU the chance to the capitalise on funding raised by the forthcoming apprenticeship levy, which is set to launch in April 2017.

'Adaptability and flexibility'

Mr Horrocks said: “The watchword is greater adaptability and flexibility, and being able to have a more varied offer, and apprenticeships are an important part of that. [We are] putting ourselves in the minds of all of our different types of students and ensuring that we have an offer that is appropriate for them in terms of the way they want to learn.

“As long as the apprenticeships are publicised and marketed effectively, I think it will turn around remarkably quickly. If other universities are regarding them as second-class degrees, I reject that entirely: they have to meet the learning outcomes and all of the rigorous standards that are expected in terms of quality assurance. If others forgo that chance, then that’s their lookout, but we see a huge opportunity there.”

The Skills Funding Agency has estimated that up to 2,000 people across 40 universities and higher education institutions will start a degree apprenticeship this year.

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