GA: Frequently asked questions

Questions about Graduate Apprenticeships

What is work-based learning?

Work-based learning refers to tasks and projects carried out in the workplace that count towards the degree in terms of learning and assessment. Importantly, because academic and work-based learning are integrated, the degree can be completed on the same timescale as a traditional undergraduate degree.

What is the proportion between work and University?

The optimal balance is four days at work and one day University.

Are Graduate Apprenticeships for existing employees or new recruits?

Both. Graduate Apprenticeships are open to existing employees and new recruits.

How long does a Graduate Apprenticeship programme take?

A GA programme takes the same time as the equivalent undergraduate degree, so an Honours degree takes four years. The benefit of a GA programme is that during those four years the apprentice is building up four year’s work experience as well as earning a full-time salary.

Is advanced entry possible?

Candidates may be able to gain advanced entry to the GA programme, depending on their prior learning/qualifications, their previous work experience or if they have completed a Foundation/Modern Apprenticeship, HNC/HND or other higher education qualifications. Candidates will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

How is the Graduate Apprenticeships programme delivered?

We work with employers to ensure that the learning experience of apprentices develops them into the graduates employers need. We will do this through an initial programme design and regular update meetings to ensure that apprentices meet all of the required outcomes over the 4-year programme. We help to devise projects and identify employers’ desired outcomes for the mutual benefit of the individual and business while meeting the outcomes of the apprenticeship framework.

Can employers influence the Graduate Apprenticeships programme content?

Each apprentice has an individual learning agreement (ILA) forming the basis of their learning. The ILA is individual to each apprentice and designed and discussed with both the apprentice and their employer. Formally the ILA is agreed each year but is reviewed quarterly to address any changes due to business requirements.

What is the role of the employer?

Employers participating in a GA programme must:

  • consider whether a candidate has a reasonable chance of achieving the selected programme during the selection process – this includes not only the course content but the acquisition of wider graduate attributes. We will help with this.
  • provide agreed information to support the candidate’s application to the degree programme
  • provide apprentices with suitable opportunities for the type of experience in the workplace that will support their learning and skills acquisition
  • provide each apprentice with a nominated mentor who must be readily accessible by the apprentice and to the university
  • liaise with the university on the content and practical activities in the apprentice’s individual learning and training plan
  • provide information that will support the individual apprentice and their assessment
How does Heriot-Watt support Graduate Apprentices?

Heriot-Watt provides a Personal Tutor for each apprentice. Employers must also provide workplace mentors for apprentices and we will provide training for mentors if required. This may also count towards CPD for employees.

The combination of Personal Tutor and Workplace Mentor provides the majority of the support for apprentices throughout the programme, although apprentices can also get support from university staff and their colleagues in the workplace throughout the duration of the programme.

How are Graduate Apprenticeship programmes funded?

Graduate Apprentice learning costs are now funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). Graduate Apprentices must apply directly to SAAS for funding. SAAS then pays the fees directly to the University. Find out more about SAAS funding.

Is there an impact on the Graduate Apprentice's salary?

No, there is no impact. The apprentice remains on their normal full-time salary.

Are there restrictions on what kind of employers can take on Graduate Apprentices?

The programmes start in September. We recommend to employers and potential students that they contact us as early as possible to make sure places are available on their desired programme(s). We have a specific number of places available each year and they are offered on a first come, first served basis.