Leaving Sixth Form can be a daunting experience. The security of a structured timetable, living at home and the thought of saying goodbye to friends we have known for years is tough. However, it can also be an incredibly exciting time and the opportunities are limitless. Gone are the days that it was university, or else. In fact, there are so many options for those leaving Sixth Form these days. Perhaps you fancy taking a gap year or starting a business of your very own? Or perhaps you know what you want to do for work and are toying between the idea of a degree apprenticeship vs a university degree. If it’s the latter, then here are the pros and cons of two very popular options: degree apprenticeships versus a university degree.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

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Degree apprenticeships are a new programme offered at some universities where students can achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship. These programmes are being developed by employers, universities and professional bodies working in partnership. These combine working with studying part-time at university. They can take three to six years to complete, depending on the course level.

Pro: earn work experience

A degree apprenticeship is a great way to earn work experience. With a degree apprenticeship, once you’re qualified, you’ll have experience and a qualification so you can choose to progress your career elsewhere. In some industries, such as construction,  experience counts more than a degree. Therefore, an apprenticeship could be perfect for you if you are looking to go into a specific career.

Con: limited direction

Degree apprenticeships can often be vocational which means you could be working in a trade or something which requires a lot of dedication. Having dedication is crucial otherwise if you change your mind, you’ll have limited qualifications to show employers and will not be able to complete another apprenticeship.

Pro: support from colleagues

With degree apprenticeships, there will always be someone at hand to give you support and advice. As an apprentice, you’ll be given a coach to teach you the responsibilities that come with the job. They’ll help out with the assignments given at degree level. You will be learning from someone with years of experience and training in the field.

Con: Competitive with funding requirements

With more and more young people opting for apprenticeships, they are becoming more and more competitive. Especially those with big, well-known companies. You will most likely have to apply to multiple apprenticeships and can’t rely on getting your first choice. Apprenticeships also have funding requirements as they’re funded by the government and so you have to meet a specific criteria.

What is a university degree?

Most people associate going to university with getting a degree. There are four types of degrees: undergraduate or undergrad, postgraduate or postgrad, Master’s & PhD. An undergraduate degree is the first level of degree study at a university which could either be Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) depending on your degree type.

Pro: you’ll be able to secure a specialised job

Gaining a university degree in your area of interest means that you can improve your chances of securing a job role in the specialised field of your choice. Most skilled jobs require academic training as well as a bachelor’s and master’s degree. For example, careers such as law and education require this.

Con: you’ll end up in debt

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Education is very expensive nowadays. Unless you have the financial means to pay for your education upfront, you will be graduating with a degree but also considerable debt. There are many things to take into consideration, such as accommodation costs and living expenses. Don’t worry though; there are financial aids you can apply for that will lift the financial burden off your shoulders. These include scholarships and bursaries. Likewise, you may want to check out our guide on Student Finance repayment for more information.

Pro: you’ll develop transferable skills

A university degree will help develop transferable skills that can be used in any job role. Some of the most useful of these transferable skills include communication, teamwork and creativity. Therefore, as well as honing in on your specific subject knowledge, you’ll have the chance to develop other skills which can make you employable.

Con: you won’t be guaranteed a job

The only guarantee you will be getting from university is that you’ll be graduating with a degree. There is no guarantee you will find a job easily or be promoted. The job market is very competitive and you will need numerous skills and qualifications to stand out from other candidates. A degree could only be the minimum requirement for the role.

We hope this helps you decide between degree apprenticeships vs a university degree. Have you graduated uni and aren’t sure what to do next? Check out our guide on what to do after uni. 

Pro: Social Life

Right from the get-go at fresher’s week, university is all about socialising- especially at these hardest partying unis! You hear people talk a lot about the ‘university experience’, which if we’re honest, consists mainly of getting drunk. If you choose to live in halls, you get the chance to be independent and move out of your family home. With endless societies and sports clubs to choose from, there are a lot of opportunities to meet new people.

You can search and apply for degree apprenticeships here.