Students will be able to start degree-level nurse apprenticeships from September 2017, the government has confirmed as it announced £4.5 million of funding will be given to universities to develop new courses launching next year.
Four universities will offer nurse apprenticeships from next autumn, while another that is involved in testing the forthcoming nursing associate role will also be given funding.
Universities and colleges across England are set to offer 5,200 new degree-level apprenticeships in 2017, covering a range of sectors including healthcare.
“This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design high-quality degree apprenticeships”
Nurse apprenticeships will be offered at the Universities of Derby, Gloucestershire, Greenwich, and Sunderland.
In addition, funding for creating a nursing associate apprenticeship will be given to the University of Wolverhampton in partnership with Walsall College, City of Wolverhampton College and Birmingham Metropolitan College.
The introduction of nurse apprenticeships comes at the same time as major changes to funding for student nurses on traditional pre-registration degree courses, who will no longer receive bursaries and instead have to take out a loan to cover tuition and living costs from September 2017.
The apprenticeships are designed as an alternative to traditional courses, with participants spending part of their time at university and the other part with their employer.
“Degree apprenticeships… give people a real chance to earn while you learn”
This is the first round of funding to be awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to course providers, as part of a two-year programme.
Skills and apprenticeships minister Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships work, that’s why we’ve launched degree apprenticeships that give people a real chance to earn while you learn, putting you on the fast track to a top career.
“This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design high-quality degree apprenticeships that give people a ladder of opportunity, more choice and help shape Britain to become an apprentice nation.”
Earlier this year, the Department of Health unveiled a target of 100,000 new apprenticeships in the NHS in England by 2020.
The government first announced its plans for nursing degree apprenticeships in 2014 as a way of attracting the brightest healthcare assistants, who may lack the entry requirements for university, into the profession.
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A government consultation on a draft version of the standard for degree-level nurse apprenticeships closed in September.
But responding to the consultation at the time, the Royal College of Nursing warned of the “serious risks” of how quickly the plans were being drawn up.
It said it supported apprenticeships “as part of increasing the provision of greater choice and variety of routes into registered nursing”.
But the union said there were “serious risks with the pace at which these reforms are being designed and implemented” and a lack of clarity around how it fitted with other changes being made to the education and training of the nursing workforce, including other apprenticeship routes in health and social care.