University or Apprenticeship

Education concept. Student studying and brainstorming campus con

The debate between attending university versus an apprenticeship has persisted for a while, so picking your next step demands considerable thought. Although most students still opt for university, apprenticeships are now widely viewed as an alternative to traditional higher education.

Given that universities can now cost as much as £9,250 a year, it is not surprising that more and more individuals are looking for alternatives. University may be the most popular route to follow. However, as a school leaver, you have access to a wide range of alternatives. Apprenticeships are one of the most popular alternatives to university.

Which is better, a university education or an apprenticeship? To assist you in choosing the best path for you, we’ll examine both apprenticeships and higher education.

What is an apprenticeship?

A long-term training programme called an apprenticeship is conducted under the supervision of an employer. An apprentice can gain the skills necessary for a vocation or trade while earning money since they are paid for work done while in training. By taking evening classes or pursuing further postsecondary education, you can complement your practical work experience.

Traditionally, apprenticeships have been used to train people in specific trades or skilled vocations. The practical and administrative facets of the craft are taught to the apprentice while they are working by suitable, experienced, and qualified professionals. The completion of an apprenticeship is the awarding of a certificate, licence, or other document that enables the apprentice to practice their trade on their own.

What is a university education?

An academic degree can be obtained through a structured higher education programme at a university. Universities, which are academic organisations that conduct learning programmes, are able to award degrees upon successful completion of all administrative and academic prerequisites.

Students can choose from many different classes, and they stretch out over the course of two or more years. A first degree can be earned through undergraduate study, or a second degree can be earned through postgraduate study if the first degree was earned before the programme for the second degree.

A teacher smiling at camera in classroom

University VS Apprenticeship

At university, you’ll be able to focus your studies on a subset of your preferred subject matter. There is a wide range of options, and studying the traditional academic topics isn’t the only one.

However, apprenticeships are work-based learning programmes where you can gain real skills while working. You will receive a qualification that is pertinent and will improve your chances for future employment. You have to consider whether the additional costs of attending university are worthwhile for you because one of the key distinctions between an apprenticeship and a university education is the ability to “earn while you learn.”

The following areas are where apprenticeships and universities diverge the most:


You will have earned a Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, or PhD at the conclusion of a university education, which could take you anywhere between 3 and 8 years to complete, or even longer if you study part-time.

The combination of one day of study per week and on-the-job training during an apprenticeship, however, results in a qualification that is recognised by the industry. From level 1 (GCSE Pass) through level 5/7 (Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree), there are several apprenticeship levels that correspond to various qualification levels.

As a result, after your apprenticeship is through, you’ll have the necessary abilities and credentials to prove your expertise to potential employers. Depending on the level of study you choose, an apprenticeship might last anywhere from one to five years.

Training Structure

The degree programmes pursued in universities offer a highly structured programme of learning that, over the course of several years, increases academic knowledge in a particular topic. In a regular degree programme, the first year of instruction is typically basic. Through research and the writing of dissertations, students have the chance to deepen and broaden their understanding of the subject in the second and third years.

The duties and obligations of the job or trade the apprentice is learning are at the centre of apprenticeships. The employer determines the length of the workday and how the apprentice advances over the course of the months and years. Key abilities needed for independent working are approved by the employer as an apprentice advance in their particular field up until they have satisfied the requirements for finishing their apprenticeship or earning the necessary certification.


An important distinction between the two learning styles is finance. In contrast, university students pay the university for their tuition, apprentices are paid a salary. When your salary reaches a specific level, an incremental loan that was given to the institution to meet your tuition costs will be due.

The minimum wage standards for apprenticeship set by the government each year are met by the wages paid to apprentices. Apprentices 16 to 18 receive a range of pay rates, and those 19 and older are compensated at the federal minimum wage. Since training an apprentice costs the company money, apprenticeship salaries are lower than full-time salaries.

How to Decide University or Apprenticeship

This could be a difficult and crucial choice. But before you make a decision, there are a few things you need to consider.

1- How Do I Like to Learn? 

In addition to attending lectures, seminars, and tutorials, students who are enrolled in college may also participate in lab, field, or workshop/studio sessions. While some courses are vocational, many are theoretical. Work internships are a component of several courses, particularly those that lead to professional registration for a career. Essays, written tests, and research projects are frequently used as assessment methods.

Apprenticeships provide a practical, “hands-on” kind of education. Despite some off-the-job training, working a real job will teach you a lot more. The skills you pick up on the job will transfer to your off-the-job training and vice versa. A variety of evaluation techniques are employed, including practice tests and observations of your ability at work.

2- What About Financial Situation?

The problem of student loan debt is well known. In order to cover your living expenses while attending university, you will typically need to take out loans. But keep in mind that if you do take out student loans, you won’t have to start paying them back until you have a job and are making a set amount of money.

Not only are there typically no tuition fees if you complete an apprenticeship, but you are also paid for your work and have a genuine job. Although there are minimum wage rates, many firms pay far more.

3- Do I Envision a Career?

Find out what options are available if you already know what you want to do. However, for some professions, such as becoming a veterinarian or doctor, training must be completed through full-time university study. You may have the option of beginning through an apprenticeship or a full-time university course.

Apprenticeships used to be primarily about learning “the trades,” but today, they are accessible in almost every industry. In certain situations, they offer an alternative path to careers in accounting, surveying, or nursing.

Final Thoughts

Making a decision is difficult, and one alternative isn’t always preferable to the other. Examine your existing circumstances; think about the credentials you already possess, the courses you’d like to take, your money, and your long-term goals. Choose the greatest choice for you after conducting some study.

You may complete an apprenticeship before attending college, or you could obtain a degree first before beginning an apprenticeship. But if you choose the latter option, the same money for apprenticeships might not be accessible.

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