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Higher and Degree apprenticeships

Transform your business performance and build your A-Team with our Higher and Degree apprenticeships. Our programmes are a cost-effective solution for all employers and learners to acquire the latest higher-level industry skills and knowledge.

Higher and degree apprenticeships

The University of Sunderland is a leading University for work-based learning. Our degree apprenticeship programmes are designed in collaboration with employer so they meet their current and future needs. We also pride ourselves on the service we provide to customers, which means the needs of your business or programme of learning is focussed on your specific requirements.

Higher and Degree apprenticeships are suitable for both new staff and your current workforce, enabling you to attract fresh talent and upskill, motivate and retain existing employees. Apprentices are employees and spend the majority of their time in the workplace, supported by dedicated study time with the University.

Larger organisations can use their apprenticeship levy and the government top-up to pay for tuition and professional fees of approved apprenticeship standards such as our higher and degree apprenticeship programmes.

For smaller employers that do not incur the apprenticeship levy, the government pays 90%, with the remainder co-invested by the business. Further incentives are available for smaller businesses and organisations that employ younger apprentices or those who have formerly been in care or who have an Education and Health Care plan.

Watch our business partners, academic staff and apprentices talking about our higher and degree apprenticeships:


We're developing a range of higher and degree apprenticeships in collaboration with businesses and health partners.

Take a look at the courses we have on offer in our Higher and Degree apprenticeships subject area page.

Why work with us?

The University of Sunderland has been providing higher education since 1901. We're an ambitious university with a global reach - as well as our two campuses in Sunderland, we also have 1,750 students studying at sites in Canary Wharf, London and in Central, Hong Kong. A further 9,000 students study in their own countries as part of transnational partnerships.

We provide uniquely tailored solutions for employers to reach their business goals and gain the maximum value from investing in higher and degree apprenticeships.

  • Support from a dedicated team focused on your needs
  • Access to world-class facilities and expertise
  • Wide-ranging offer which employers can shape
  • Extensive experience of helping organisations such as Nissan and the NHS to improve their business performance
  • Track record of successfully delivering higher and degree apprenticeships with business already
  • Exceptional support for your apprentices as they progress through their studies

Apprenticeship Levy

From April 2017, employers with an annual pay bill of over £3m will contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy. The levy is being introduced to improve the quality of apprenticeships, drive an increase in apprenticeship numbers and encourage employers to invest in apprentices.

Employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m

The levy will be charged at a rate of 0.5% of your yearly pay bill. You will have a levy allowance of £15k per year to offset against the levy you pay, and will receive a monthly top-up (10%) from the government which will be added to funds you have for spending on apprenticeship training.

Employers with an annual pay bill of £3m or less

Smaller employers are not required to pay the levy. The government will pay 90% towards the cost of apprenticeships with 10% co-invested by you.

Payment of the levy

You will pay the levy to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through the PAYE process. Once you have paid the levy to HMRC, you'll be able to access funding for apprenticeships through a new digital apprentice service account which you can register for from January 2017. Levy funds (and top-ups) will expire 24 months after they appear in your digital account unless they are spent on apprenticeship training.

How can the levy funds be used?

You can use the levy funds for tuition and professional apprenticeship standards such as our higher and degree apprenticeship programmes. Every apprenticeship standard and framework will be placed in a funding band, which will define the maximum amount that can be used towards training and assessment costs over the length of each apprenticeship.

When will the levy come into effect?

Funds in your digital account will be available in late May 2017, after which you can start spending your levy funds. Funds will appear in your digital account monthly, a few working days after you have confirmed your pay bill and levy contribution to HMRC for the previous month.

Talk to us

There are different ways for the employer to fund the costs of higher and degree apprenticeships, which may include the Apprentice Levy already paid for by the employer or specific funding opportunities which may be available. For a discussion around your specific requirements please contact the team on:

0191 515 3361 /