UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


UCL announces new degree apprenticeships programme

1 August 2019

UCL has announced that it will be launching degree apprenticeship programmes for the first time later this year to support UK industry sectors experiencing skills shortages.

New project

The university will pilot two master’s level degree apprenticeships, one in the Department of Space & Climate Physics and one in the Institute of Ophthalmology, with the first intake of apprentices arriving in September 2019. Following the pilot, UCL is exploring the expansion of degree apprenticeships more broadly across the institution.

Introduced in 2015, degree apprenticeships combine working with studying part-time at a university. Apprentices are employed throughout the programme, and spend part of their time at university and the rest with their employer.

Degree apprenticeships provide opportunities to employers to develop significant new skills for both their current and future workforce and are seen as one of the key drivers to reduce the UK skills deficit and provide opportunities for apprentices themselves.

As a global university which is ranked as 8th in the world in the latest QS world rankings and is based in the heart of London, UCL is very well-placed to support UK employers boost productivity by investing in the vocational skills of their workforce.

The university already has strong links with business, engaging with over 3,000 UK employers annually – including the NHS, GCHQ, the Bank of England and Transport for London - across a wide range of academic and research based study.

The new higher level apprenticeships will build on these partnerships, while also supporting the Government’s industrial strategy and the Mayor of London’s skills strategy.

UCL’s Vice Provost for Education Professor Anthony Smith said: “As a top ten global university based in London, UCL is delighted to be launching our first ever degree apprenticeship programmes this autumn. Apprenticeships are a valuable opportunity for students to earn while they learn and for employers to upskill their workforce to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of innovation.”

The two higher degree apprenticeship programmes launching at UCL this September are:

  • Systems Engineering Master’s Degree Apprenticeship

This Level 7 programme has been developed in partnership with global innovation and transformation consultancy PA Consulting (PA) to build its systems engineering capability. PA selected UCL in 2014 as the academic partner for its new Systems Thinking and Engineering Academy – a bespoke talent development initiative designed to equip students to lead engineering on the most complex programmes. The three-year apprenticeship offers the opportunity for students to gain a Master’s-level qualification. The pilot programme will start with 25 apprentices.

  • Advanced Clinical Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship in Ophthalmology

This Level 7 programme, which is being run in partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital, allows employers to train new and existing staff in advanced clinical practice via the apprenticeship route. In 2017, Health Education England, in partnership with NHS Improvement and NHS England, developed a national standard for advanced clinical practice which has been highlighted as filling an important skill gap.  Lasting three years, this part time MSc offers a mixed module, flexible approach allowing practitioners to choose modules in different subject areas tailored to their clinical practice. The pilot programme will begin with 10 apprentices before increasing in numbers in future years.

Graham Cookman, Complex Systems expert at PA Consulting, said: “Our partnership with UCL is a great example of two organisations using ingenious ways to overcome complexity in engineering programmes. Working with UCL has enhanced the skills in our teams and enabled us to help new and existing clients adapt and transform to achieve enduring results.”

David Probert, Chief Executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “I’m pleased that this progressive apprenticeship has been launched in partnership with UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology. As the largest provider of NHS-funded ophthalmology education and training, we are fully committed to ensuring that our staff have the opportunity to advance their clinical roles and are equipped to deliver the best possible care for our patients whilst meeting the demands that modern ophthalmic healthcare needs.”



Media contact

Mark Greaves

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 9485

Email: m.greaves [at] ucl.ac.uk