Proposed Uni Reforms to Support 100,000 Apprenticeships

Monday, June 3, 2024

Conservatives Pledge to Scrap "Rip-Off" University Courses to Fund 100,000 Apprenticeships Annually.

The Conservative Party has unveiled a daring initiative to eliminate certain university courses in England, deemed "rip-offs," to create funding for 100,000 apprenticeships per year, contingent on winning the upcoming July election.


Targeting Low-Value Degrees for Reallocation

The plan focuses on degrees with high drop-out rates and poor job prospects, redirecting those funds to bolster vocational training programs. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticised the former Labour Leader Tony Blair’s objective of sending half of young people to university, arguing it has led to an increase in low-value degrees.


Proposed Uni Reforms to Support 100,000 Apprenticeships


Legislation to Shut Down Poor Performing Courses

The Conservatives announced their intent to introduce legislation that would empower the Office for Students to close underperforming courses based on metrics like drop-out rates, job progression, and future earnings. This follows the government’s July announcement to cap student numbers on courses failing to deliver positive outcomes.


Financial Savings and Economic Impact

The Conservatives project that eliminating these courses could save the government £910 million by 2030, based on the premise that students in low-performing courses have lower earnings, leading to unpaid student debt covered by taxpayers. They estimate that 75% of students from these courses would shift to employment or apprenticeships.


Opposition Reactions

Labour has criticised the Conservatives for the significant decline in new apprenticeships, with Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson calling the announcement “laughable.” She emphasised Labour’s plans to introduce technical excellence colleges and reform the apprenticeship levy for more flexible training options.


The Liberal Democrats also condemned the current apprenticeship system, with Education Spokeswoman Munira Wilson pointing out issues like low pay and high drop-out rates needing urgent reform.


The Balance Between Apprenticeships and Higher Education

Rachel Hewitt, CEO of MillionPlus, stressed that apprenticeships and higher education should not be seen as mutually exclusive. She highlighted that modern universities already offer degree apprenticeships, combining academic study with industry experience, enabling students to earn while they learn.


Conservative Firm Stance

Despite the criticisms, the Conservative Party remains steadfast, projecting that the proposed savings would allow the government to invest £885 million into creating 100,000 additional apprenticeships annually by the end of the next parliament.


Decline in Apprenticeships and Completion Rates

The number of new apprenticeships in England has decreased from 509,400 in 2015/16 to 321,400 in 2020/21, with a slight increase to 337,100 in 2022/23. However, drop-out rates remain a concern, with only 53.4% of apprentices completing their programs in 2021/22, below the government’s target of 67% by the end of 2024/25.


Triple Lock Plus Plan

Overall, the proposed "triple lock plus" plan aims to reallocate educational funding towards vocational training and apprenticeships, addressing long-standing concerns about the value and outcomes of certain university degrees. The Conservatives position this policy as a key strategy to enhance job prospects and economic stability for future generations.

About the Author: Nurturing Apprenticeship Enthusiasm

The Office Apprentice

Darryn (The Office Apprentice) Lewis 

Talent Acquisition Specialist with a rich tapestry of 15 years in the world of human resources and recruitment. My passion lies in connecting exceptional talent with forward-thinking organisations, fostering growth on both ends of the spectrum.

I bring not just expertise but a genuine love for the subject. Through my words, apprenticeships cease to be a mere career path; they become a transformative journey toward personal and professional growth. Welcome to a space where enthusiasm for apprenticeships is not just evident but contagious. Let's embark on this exciting adventure together!

Darryn Lewis