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Higher Education


With more employees prepared to upskill and employers increasingly concerned over their ability to retain and attract a skilled workforce, enabling access to higher education to meet the unique needs of the business will deliver a range of benefits for both the employees and productivity gains within the organisation.

There is a wide range of higher education qualifications available including: diplomas, bachelor degrees, foundation degrees, higher and degree apprenticeships, and post-graduate degrees. They’re usually taught by universities, colleges and specialist institutions like art schools.

How it works in the city

The following local institutions provide higher and degree apprenticeships and full higher education (HE) courses:

Arts University of Plymouth

City College Plymouth 

MLA College

Plymouth Marjon University - Marjons Futures

University of Plymouth

Other institutions that provide higher education within the region include:

Cornwall College

Exeter College

South Devon College

University of Exeter

The South West Institute of Technology covers Devon, Cornwall and Somerset representing world-class employers and local education. Building on the unique strengths of the region the South West Institute of Technology delivers across technical sectors, specialising in marine engineering, data science and nuclear energy.

Did you know?

Understanding the right path to take when looking at higher education courses to help employers and their workforce gain the skills required to improve their business is not always easy - there are many ways to achieve business goals with university being one option. Employers can search and apply for most higher education courses online, if you know which course you’re looking for UCAS can provide support to find which universities offer it. You can make direct contact with the local higher education institutions listed below to explore options.

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships can develop your existing staff to meet the unique needs of your business and increase productivity to grow your business. They are the best combination of on the job training and employees studying for a higher level qualification to give you the knowledgeable workforce your business needs and fill higher level skills gaps. Higher apprenticeships are available at a range of levels, from the equivalent of a foundation degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree level in some sectors.They combine work with study and may include a work-based, academic or combined qualification or a professional qualification relevant to the industry. A higher or degree apprenticeship enables a new recruit or existing member of staff to gain a higher education qualification and/or full undergraduate or master’s degree while working. Degree apprenticeships take three to six years to complete, depending on the course level. The apprentice will spend most of the time working and also study part-time at university. For example, study at university maybe one or two days per week, or in short blocks, such as a week at a time. Overall, it is 20% of the time studying and 80% working.

How much do higher and degree apprenticeships cost?

The cost of degree apprenticeship training ranges between £4,000 and £27,000, depending on the level and sector. Each apprenticeship standard has a maximum funding band which represents the maximum amount you should expect to pay for the training.

If you pay the levy...

If you have an annual payroll of over £3 million per year, you’ll be contributing to the apprenticeship levy every month, and can use these funds to pay for apprenticeship training, which develops high-level skills in your business. Each month’s levy contribution must be used within 24 months otherwise it’s removed from your Apprenticeship Service (AS) account – so you might as well use it, or you’ll lose it!

If you don’t pay the levy...

If you’re a small to medium sized enterprise with an annual payroll of less than £3 million, the Government will pay for 95% of apprenticeship training, and you’ll only have to pay the remaining 5%. For example, for a degree apprenticeship with the maximum funding cap of £27,000, the employer would only have to contribute £1,350. This contribution will need to be paid in full to comply with ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) funding rules.

Higher Technical Qualifications are new and existing Level 4 and 5 qualifications (such as Higher National Diplomas, Foundation Degrees, Diploma Higher Education), approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, against employer-led occupational standards.

Find out more

A range of government programmes are available for employers, some of which offer financial incentives. Further detail can be found here.

In particular, for higher-technical-qualifications (HTQ) please click here.

Additional information can be found using the The Education Landscape – A Guide for Employers.

For more information about Higher Education courses please use the links below.



National Careers Service

Open University

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