Section H: The validation of Apprenticeships


H1. General considerations

This section describes the processes involved in the validation of Higher and Degree Apprenticeship proposals. Higher and Degree Apprenticeships combine work with study and include a work-based, academic or combined academic and professional qualification relevant to a specific job role. Apprentices spend most of their time at work but must spend at least 20% of the time in ‘off the job’ study or training.

Apprenticeships including a Higher Education (HE) qualification are either:

  • Higher Apprenticeships at Levels 4 or 5 (i.e. a Diploma of Higher Education or a Foundation Degree).
  • Degree Apprenticeships at Levels 6 or 7 (i.e. a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree).

These procedures have been devised to ensure:

  • the course meets the apprenticeship standard and adequately prepares the apprentice for End Point Assessment (EPA) and is compliant with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Funding Rules.
  • that both the University and the staff are provided with an opportunity to evaluate and develop the course in the light of experience so as to assure the highest quality standards.


H2. Administrative procedures for validation

Apprenticeships must be validated before recruitment can commence.

To be included on the validation schedule, Schools must notify Registry of the proposed course developments by submitting the Apprenticeship Validation Proforma. Proposals should be consistent with the School’s strategic development plans for apprenticeships and have assessed the financial, resource and market viability.

The procedures for validating an apprenticeship proposal will be the same as for a University validation for a course delivered at the University (see Section B. of the University’s Quality Assurance Procedures for Taught Courses and Research Awards), except where noted below.


H3. The validation process

The purpose of the validation event will be to establish that the proposed course aligns to the QA framework, relevant Apprenticeship Standard and associated EPA Plan allowing apprentices to demonstrate the required knowledge, skills and behaviours for the apprenticeship in order for them to achieve both the HE qualification and the apprenticeship itself.

The composition of the validation panel will be as detailed in Section B of this Handbook with at least one of the external members having experience in apprenticeships. Validation Panels normally require two external members; one from industry or profession and one from the higher education sector. Where these two external panel members do not have apprenticeship experience a third external panel member will be required. The Chair and Internal Panel members will normally have degree apprenticeship experience.

In addition to the content specified in Section B ‘Documents Required for Validation’, the course documentation must address the following issues:


Rationale and Development

  • A clear rationale for the proposed apprenticeship should be provided and be consistent with the School’s strategic development plans for apprenticeships and have assessed the financial, resource and market viability.
  • The rationale should consider how the course will enable employers to support and develop capacity and capability within their workforce.
  • Learning Outcomes need to be mapped to the skills, knowledge and behaviours specified in the Apprenticeship Standard, at course or module level as appropriate. (This is in addition to the mapping of outcomes against QAA requirements in Section B.)
  • Schools should consider the range of working contexts and variety of employment settings and work patterns within which the apprenticeship might be taken to ensure there is an appropriate work/ study/ life balance for apprentices.
  • There may be cases specific to apprenticeships not identified in the University’s regulations. These may include redundancy or change of employer and ESFA’s Funding Rules should be referred to for guidance.
  • Further situations, such as employer requirements that mean the University’s standard term dates and assessment periods cannot be adhered to, would require exemption approval from the Pro Vice Chancellor: Teaching and Learning.


Admissions and Recruitment

Variations to standard admission requirements should be detailed in the documentation with consideration to:

  • Initial Needs Assessment (INA) of the apprentice’s abilities must be carried out in line with the proposed apprenticeship using the University standard INA template prior to enrolment.
  • Commitment Statements summarising the schedule, roles and responsibilities that supports the successful completion of the apprenticeship using the University standard template prior to enrolment.
  • Apprentices must be assessed as eligible for apprenticeship funding.


Delivery and support of the course

  • The arrangements by which students are supported whilst in the workplace by University staff and organisation of tripartite reviews.
  • Confirmation of the provision of any additional resource (academic, technical and/or administrative) required to support apprentices.
  • A draft ‘Learner Handbook’ including detailed explanations of what learners can expect from the course, what support they will receive from the University and their employer.
  • A draft programme plan showing what elements of the course count towards the 20% ‘off the job training’ and where apprentices can take annual leave.
  • Confirmation of how apprentices' evidence their learning throughout the apprenticeship reflecting on experiences and progress towards the skills, knowledge and behaviours outlined in the standard.

The approval for an apprenticeship course shall be for a maximum period of five years or, if applicable, the ‘review period’ stated in the Apprenticeship Standard is this is less than five years.


H4. Annual evaluation

The standard annual evaluation cycle should be followed and the report should include consideration of any issues arising specific to apprenticeship delivery. The report will be considered by the School delivering the course at its annual evaluation meeting and will also be noted at the Standing Committee for Apprenticeships.


H5. Subject review

Apprenticeship courses are expected to align to the University’s Subject Review Cycle and will be included in the assessment of the courses within the relevant subject area.