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A simple case for degree apprenticeships – They cost £0!

The perils of University education in 2023

Debt, it’s a lovely word. University debt, that’s even better. Two nouns that strike fear into every prospective student and graduate’s heart.

Debt is a HUGE factor in people’s choice to attend university.

As of 2023, the average university degree will cost individuals approximately £35,000 – £60,000 depending on their university, living situation, and degree duration.

Let’s break that down:

  • Course duration = 3 years
  • Student loan = £9,250 pa
  • Average maintenance loan = £8,500 pa
  • Total debt after 3 years = £53,250

Now, assuming this is outside of London and the average salary for a fresh graduate is around £25,000 and that this individual is able to achieve a pretty nice 8.2% annual pay increase, which let’s face facts, rarely happens, it would take that individual approximately 25 years to pay back that loan with the standard contributions taken by the government. Let’s not get started on the amount of interest one would pay back over this period either as it’d make your eyes spin!

Another issue with this is

During full-time study, students will unlikely be able to hold down a full-time job and may struggle to develop real-world skills in the area that they’re actually studying towards. This limits their earning potential, their exposure to the real world of work in the area they want to go into, and potentially nullifies future salary increases due to larger student loan contribution payments.

So what’s a solution?

Well, it’s one that isn’t particularly pushed by the government or schools but is in fact perfect for anyone wishing to achieve a higher education without being laden with debt. Drum roll please; Apprenticeships.

Unlike standard degrees, degree apprenticeships have all the benefits with little to no downside when it comes to money and debt.

Let’s break them down:

  • Course durations =3 years
  • Student loan = £0 pa – The government and employer pay the cost which means the SLC don’t get to touch your pay packet.
  • Maintenance loan = £0 pa – You pay rent, mortgage, or live with parents, etc, so this ultimately depends on your situation.
  • Average debt after 3 years = £0 – Unless you particularly love using credit cards or visiting loan sharks…

Recently, I spoke with the Marketing Manager of Trust Electrical Heating, Olivia Hullah. She’s in her final year of a Marketing Degree Apprenticeship and had this to say…

Degree debt was a massive consideration, that’s one of the reasons I chose a degree apprenticeship. 1. I wouldn’t have a massive debt upon completion and 2. Because I got paid on the job. It was a no-brainer!

However, the simple fact is that apprenticeships are not being pushed anywhere near as much as they need to be by the government and schools. We’ve spoken with a variety of organisations that have expressed this. I think the underlying issue is that they do not contribute to the system of economics. If even 10% of all students did degree apprenticeships that would mean a loss of billions of £’s of student debt repayments and interest. For context, the student loan industry is worth about £460bil. That’s quite a chunk of change.

Some stats

According to UCAS, in 21-22 only around 37,800 people started degree apprenticeships. However, 425,000 people wanted to know more about them. Now, in comparison, according to House of Commons data just over 1.28 million people started undergraduate degrees in the same year. That’s a measly 2.95% of all enrolments. Now, as of late, there has been more talk about promoting apprenticeships and getting rid of low-earning degrees, which on a personal note I’m all in favour for being as I did a degree in animation effectively wasting three years drawing cat animatics, but I feel that this “push” is purely tokenistic and that there’ll be a feigned effort to mention apprenticeships every now and again. I think the takeaway here is that there needs to be a dramatic shift in how the government and schools discuss and advertise apprenticeships as an alternative to degrees. Anyway, that’s probably for a slightly different article.

So, where does this leave us?

So, what can we take from this information? Well, if you want to do a degree as a fresh-out-of-college student; an existing employee with some experience under your belt; or just want to retrain without loading yourself up with copious amounts of debt, then a degree apprenticeship may be the answer. It’s early days for us at The Marketing Trainer, but, in the future, we plan on working with a university to offer a level 6 Marketing degree apprenticeship. So, why not sign up for our newsletter to keep abreast of developments in this space? Go on, you know you want to.

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