University and Careers


Approximately 95% of KES students opt to go to university. However, university life is not for everyone and there are many excellent reasons for choosing not to study for a degree at university. Every year some students decide to go straight into the world of work following A Levels, and a small, but growing number of students are becoming increasingly interested in applying for apprenticeships rather than studying at university.


An apprenticeship is a job with training which allows your son or daughter to earn while they learn, whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships take between one and five years to complete and are available in 1,500 occupations across 170 industries varying from construction to manufacturing through to IT and the creative and digital sectors (and this number is growing all the time).

Apprenticeships will include elements of on the job and off the job training leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships will require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence in their job role.

Obviously, a benefit of an apprenticeship is that students will be earning a salary, but of primary importance, they gain training in the skills that their employers want and there are often excellent progression opportunities. Your son or daughter would also be learning at a pace suited to them and with the support of a mentor.

At any one time there are up to 28,000 apprenticeship vacancies available on the Government website ‘Find an apprenticeship’, in a variety of careers and industries across England. There is no central system for admissions, your son or daughter will need to check the website regularly and once the right job comes up, register on the website and follow the step by step instructions to apply for the role.

An HE session on apprenticeships is held in the Spring term, so that all students have the opportunity to learn a little bit more about this alternative route to Higher Education.

Higher and Degree apprenticeships are available at levels 4-7. They combine work with study and may include a work-based, academic or combined qualification; or a professional qualification relevant to the industry. Levels 4 and 5 are equivalent to a Higher Education Certificate / Diploma or a Foundation Degree; Level 6 is equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree; and Level 7 is equivalent to a Master’s Degree. Achieve a degree from some of the best universities whilst training in a top flight career. Tuition fees are paid by the employer and the government, and the student and earns a salary from day one.

Completion of a higher apprenticeship, leads to the award of a level 4 (or above) competence qualification, and a knowledge based qualification – a higher national diploma (HND) or foundation degree. (National Apprenticeship Service, June 2108)

Degree apprenticeships are an opportunity for school and college leavers to get a debt-free, industry-designed degree and leap straight into a career.

Usually, young people have to make a choice when they leave school - do they go to university, or get a job straight away? It’s a difficult decision: both options have their benefits and drawbacks. The degree apprenticeship has been designed to give students the best of both worlds.

In a nutshell, candidates work for an employer and attend university at the same time. Employers partner up with a university, and the apprentice will split their time between working for them, and studying for a degree at the partner university.

  • Degree apprenticeship candidates work towards a Bachelors or Masters Degree
  • They get three to six years of professional work experience
  • All apprentices earn a salary
  • Apprentices do not pay university tuition fees - costs are covered by the government and their employer

Degree apprenticeships were launched in September 2015 and the programme now has over 1,000 apprentices. However, it is anticipated that the number of vacancies will grow over the next few years. Currently they are mainly offered in the following career areas, though new areas are regularly coming on-line:

Chartered Surveying
Chartered Manager
Electronic Systems Engineering
Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace Software DevelopmentDefence Systems Engineering
Laboratory ScienceNuclear Science
Power SystemsDigital and Technology Solutions
Automotive EngineeringBanking Relationship Manager
ConstructionTechnical Support Engineering
Product Design and DevelopmentOutside Broadcasting Engineering
Licensed ConveyancerDental Technician
Healthcare Assistant PractitionerChartered Legal Executive

A full explanation of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships with current opportunities is available at:

Degree apprenticeships provide an opportunity to gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree without incurring any university tuition costs, as students are employed and paid by their employer throughout the duration of the course. With university tuition fees and living costs on the increase, this option is likely to become more and more popular with KES students.

The courses are designed in partnership with employers, with part-time study taking place at a university. They can take between three to six years to complete, depending on the level of the course. At the moment, the scheme only operates across England and Wales, although applications may be made from all parts of the UK.

Competition for apprenticeships can be very tough, partly because there are often only a limited number of vacancies available, but also because adults already in employment will be able to apply to them too. Employers may also consider applications from existing employees, who may be applying for apprenticeships for the career progression opportunities they can offer. Students will need to demonstrate not just academic ability but also the soft skills and interpersonal qualities that are important for success in their chosen career or company.

At the moment there is no central degree apprenticeship application system, but there is information available on Unifrog, the UCAS website and the government website: However, as degree apprenticeships are offered through employers, rather than universities, up-to-date vacancies are generally best found on individual company/organisation websites.

If your son or daughter is interested in gaining a degree via this route, it is important that they regularly check the range and number of vacancies being advertised for the courses/career areas in which they are interested, by looking at the websites of companies for which they may like to work. The timescales for application vary widely and new degree apprenticeships may be added to the lists at any time. It is important to understand the time frame from the vacancy being advertised, to the application deadline through to the apprenticeship start date.

Students are able to apply for a university place through UCAS as normal, in addition to applying for separate degree apprenticeships.

An HE session on degree and professional apprenticeships will be held later this term, for all interested students and the HE department will provide on-going support, throughout the application process, for any students who opt to take this route to HE.

Please see the following pages for details on how to apply for an apprenticeship, the application process and some useful links.