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Pearson College London launching new degree apprenticeship programme

Could this new programme be a game changer for the way higher education is delivered?

Safeera Sarjoo
28th July 2016
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Pearson College London has been working on an exciting collaborative programme with major employers in a bid to develop a new degree that incorporates a 4 days-a-week apprenticeship.

Over the last few months we’ve been keeping abreast of the government’s efforts to meet their targets by encouraging the creation of new apprenticeship opportunities across various sectors. We’ve spoken about where an apprenticeship can take you as well as discussed areas for improvement like the need for higher level apprenticeships that gives students the experience and education equivalent of what they would get in higher education.

This in particular has been a big talking point with a lot of concern over just how many of the 3 million apprenticeships would consist of learning opportunities that can equip students with the knowledge they need to venture into entry level jobs.

By introducing this particular programme – the first of its kind - Pearson College London is essentially addressing two major issues; ensuring apprenticeships are placed on the same level as traditional degrees and tackling the graduate skills shortage. This way an employer will be provided with the apprentices they need to meet the levy whilst students will gain valuable skills needed to succeed within the workplace. The companies involved in this programme are Tesco, Unilever, WPP's Ogilvy, IBM, Pearson and Direct Line.

I spoke with Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College London, who explained the specifics of this exciting programme.

‘Students who do this [degree apprenticeship] not only end up with a Business Management degree from the University of Kent, they also have chartered management status. We’re calling it a rotational degree apprenticeship because it’s being done in collaboration with six FTSE 100 companies, with students rotating between three. Each student will have 12 months with their home company and then eight months on secondment with another company and then another eight months on secondment with a third company and then they come back to their home company for the last eight months.  So when they’re finished after three years, they’ll have a degree, chartered management status and they’ll also have three years work experience that stands across three blue-chip companies,’ Stockwell explained.

In addition to gaining a multitude of experience that will have their CVs glowing, students also earn a salary whilst working at their chosen companies and have their tuition fees paid for – that’s how committed the companies involved are.

The creation of such a programme hasn’t been easy. Stockwell explained that a great level of organisation and agreement between the companies involved was needed in order to allow the programme to work.

‘You can imagine they’re very big companies, they’ve all got their own particular strategy and aims, but to make this work it has to be very collaborative. They all have to agree that the student apprentices can move on at the same time because they’re effectively moving into each other’s jobs as they rotate around the companies. The timings all have to match and the conditions have to be pretty similar.’

The whole concept of this programme calls into question how higher education is going to be delivered in the future, which is a discussion we think the sector should be having. Apprenticeships have often been synonymous with low achievers. However when integrated with a degree and having blue chip companies commit to delivering relevant experience, the idea of an apprenticeship becomes much more appealing. In fact, this programme could change the way we perceive apprenticeships altogether.

Stockwell believes that there will be a shift and reiterated that there is value in all apprenticeships; however a key question is how employers will react to student emerging into the industry with this one of a kind programme.  

‘When employers are looking at people they want to employ when they get to the graduate part, there’s definitely a benefit for people to have had work experience and internships along the way. But to have had three years of full time experience and across several very well known companies, it has got to make those students more competitive and desirable in comparison to students who don’t have that experience,’ Stockwell explains.

The degree apprenticeship programme is going through its pilot stages but there is every indication that it should be a success. Pearson College London may have devised the answer the educational sector has been looking for not only to allow students from all kinds of backgrounds to have a chance at succeeding but to give the sector food for thought when it comes to innovation within education.


Find out more about Pearson’s degree apprenticeship here as well as comments from the companies involved in this exciting programme.


If you’re interested in perusing our selection of apprenticeships then look no further – start your search here.

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