Can I Go To University After an Apprenticeship?

Written by Calvin Bowers

For many young people in the UK, apprenticeships have become a popular alternative to university. They offer hands-on experience, on-the-job training, and the opportunity to earn a wage while learning a trade. However, as apprenticeships become more popular, more people are wondering whether they can still go to university after an apprenticeship.

One of the biggest stereotypes of apprenticeships is that they aren’t for people who are interested in going to university. Many people believe that there are two distinct paths, either you do an apprenticeship, or you do A-Levels and go to university. This is entirely false. In fact, anyone can start an apprenticeship and there are a few ways you can combine uni with one.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of going to university after an apprenticeship, discuss different access routes, clarify the grading system, and provide some guidance to help you make an informed decision.


The Benefits of Going to University After an Apprenticeship

The top benefit of going to university after an apprenticeship has to be the career development opportunities it provides. For many roles, deeper theoretical knowledge is needed which isn’t always offered during a hands-on apprenticeship. Therefore, going to university can give you a deeper understanding of your field, boosting your chances of progressing in your career.

Another advantage of going to university after an apprenticeship is that it can lead to higher earnings. While apprenticeships can be a great way to earn money while learning, university graduates often earn more over their lifetimes. Studies show that university graduates in the UK earn on average £10,000 more per year than non-graduates.


The Drawbacks of Going to University After an Apprenticeship

Perhaps the main drawback of going to university after an apprenticeship is the cost. University tuition fees in the UK are currently capped at £9,250 per year for full-time courses. On top of that, there are also additional expenses like accommodation and rising living costs to contend with. If you have already completed an apprenticeship and are earning a wage, you may find it difficult to justify the cost of going back to university.

Another potential drawback of going to university after an apprenticeship is the time commitment. Apprenticeships typically last between one and four years, depending on the level and type of apprenticeship. Going to university would require a further three or four years of study, which may not be feasible for everyone. Additionally, taking time out of work to attend university could impact your career progression.


What To Consider Before Going to University After An Apprenticeship

If you are considering going to university after an apprenticeship, there are several factors you should take into account before taking the plunge:

  • Degree apprenticeships: Would a degree apprenticeship suit you better than doing a traditional degree? There may even be a degree apprenticeship connected to the one you are already doing, which would make it even more relevant to your current role.
  • Relevance: Is a degree relevant to the area of work that interests you? With some exceptions, university mainly focuses on academic subjects rather than vocational ones, which means if you have a job in mind, there may be a better route.
  • Your career goals: What do you want to achieve in your career? Consider whether a university degree is necessary to reach your goals.
  • Your financial situation: As we mentioned before, consider the cost of university and whether you can afford to take on additional debt or pay for tuition fees out of pocket.
  • Your time commitments: Do you have existing commitments such as a job, family or caring for a loved one? Think about how much time you can commit to studying and whether taking time out of work is feasible.


How Can I Access University After An Apprenticeship?

There are numerous routes you can take when applying for university after an apprenticeship. Perhaps A-Levels weren’t right for you because you wanted to study a more skills-based, vocational subject, and now you want to progress and take that knowledge to the next level. Much to some people’s surprise, if you have chosen to do an apprenticeship instead of doing A-levels, you can still go to university afterwards. The university application system, UCAS, ensures you can apply with a variety of qualifications and achievements.

Furthermore, university is open to people of all ages through mature student entry programmes. So even if you did an apprenticeship a long time ago and have been working since then, university is still an option for you. Institutions like The Open University specialise in mature students and those who may not have traditional qualifications.

Another way you can access university after an apprenticeship is by continuing with an apprenticeship at degree level. Degree apprenticeships are the highest apprenticeship level, and they enable students to gain a university degree while training and gaining work experience.


Are My Apprenticeship Grades Equivalent to A-Levels?

Our final section will serve to clarify the apprenticeship or A-Level grades necessary to apply for university. There are three different types of apprenticeships, each equivalent to a different level of qualification. To get into university, you need Level 3 qualifications; most commonly, this is AS, and A-Levels, however advanced apprenticeships are also a Level 3 qualification.

Advanced apprenticeships are the second apprenticeship level after intermediate, and they are roughly the equivalent of two A-Level pass grades (grade C). This means that doing an advanced apprenticeship is another route into university.

Each university and higher education institution sets its own entry requirements for each course, which means that different universities will require different qualifications to get into a particular course. Some universities may require students to have A-Levels before applying, but not all of them.

When applying to university through UCAS, a points system is used. Essentially, each university course has a specific number of points required for admission, and each qualification and grade corresponds to a different number of points. Fortunately, advanced apprenticeships, which are classified as a Level 3 qualification, carry UCAS points. This means that if you have completed an advanced apprenticeship, you can use these points to apply for university. To find out how many points you have, you can easily use the UCAS points calculator.



To sum up, going to university after an apprenticeship can be a great way to further your career and increase your earning potential. However, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons and consider your personal circumstances before making a decision.

For more help and advice related to students and graduates, visit our sister site Developing a Student.

Here at Employing an Apprentice, we are dedicated to helping apprentices reach their career goals. Be sure to check out our dedicated apprentice jobs board for all the latest opportunities in your area. Our help and advice section has answers to all of your questions.

If there’s something else you would like to ask, feel free to contact us. And don’t miss a thing from Employing an Apprentice by signing up for our newsletter using the form below.

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Last Updated: Sunday April 23 2023
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