The University of Strathclyde has been commended by education regulator Ofsted for its high-quality delivery of Degree Apprenticeships, along with its ambitious Leadership and Management.

Ofsted – the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills responsible for inspecting a range of educational institutions – conducted a two-day New Provider Monitoring inspection of Strathclyde’s Degree Apprenticeship Programmes in September.

Strathclyde is the only Scottish university provider of Degree Apprenticeships, delivering its programmes through virtual learning platforms and making an impact in the English market by offering a high-quality learning experience for both apprentices and their employers.

The Ofsted inspectors undertook a ‘deep dive’ into two programmes: the Senior Leaders MBA and the BSc (hons) Digital Technology Solutions. The inspection covered a wide range of criteria including Leadership and Management, Quality of Education, and Safeguarding.

Innovative approach

Inspectors praised Strathclyde’s innovative approach to employer engagement, noting that programmes were co-designed with employers to ensure relevance, and lecturers included a broad range of topics beyond the prescribed curriculum to meet business requirements.

They highlighted the quality of educational provision the apprentices receive, with most gaining merit or distinction grades, and a significant number of apprentices achieving promotion during or after their apprenticeship.

The inspectors also commended the University’s approach to Safeguarding, recognising that staff at all levels took their responsibilities in this area seriously, and that there is a wide range of support services available to students.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of Strathclyde, said: “We are delighted that Ofsted has recognised the commitment and efforts that colleagues have made in the development and continued growth of our Degree Apprenticeships offering in England.

“We are strongly committed to the ongoing success of our programmes and after a rigorous two days with Ofsted, we are proud of what we have achieved. We are passionate about our apprenticeship programmes and our continued collaboration with industry, offering outstanding courses for businesses and learners which are helping both to grow and thrive. “

Meaningful learning

Strathclyde currently offers seven degree apprenticeship programmes, including Chemical Processing Engineering, Medical Statistics, and Postgraduate Engineer in Engineering Management. More courses are launching in the new academic year.

As well as Degree Apprenticeships in England, the University delivers six Graduate Apprenticeship programmes in Scotland and works with large businesses such Barclays, Babcock, JP Morgan, Thales, and GSK, alongside a wide range of small and medium sized companies.

A Babcock representative said: “It was encouraging to see that Ofsted have confirmed that the University is being ambitious about what our apprentices can achieve through the curriculum we have collectively worked on to align with the required knowledge, skills and behaviours. As a business we must continue to develop our future leaders and support them to facilitate change by providing meaningful learning interventions such as those provided by Strathclyde.”

Helyn Gould, Deputy Associate Principal for Learning Teaching, said: “I am delighted that Ofsted were impressed by our degree apprenticeship programmes, the quality of our delivery and recognised the hard work and dedication of all our staff.

“As ‘the place of useful learning’, we pride ourselves on delivering a world class learning experience. We had two intensive days of what was a very rigorous process and I am absolutely delighted and proud of our fantastic achievement.

“This recognition bolsters the many accreditations from professional bodies the University has achieved across a number of its programmes. “

Degree apprenticeships allow employees to study for a degree whilst working full time, bringing academic learning straight back into the workplace. They are funded using the employers’ Apprenticeship Levy and combine work-based learning with academia.

Programmes are developed by employers, universities and professional bodies working in partnership to address regional and national skills needs.