The University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1999 by the higher and further education sector. We provide an independent voice for our members on matters relating to technical and professional higher level learning including higher and degree apprenticeship. Our mission is to champion higher level vocational learning.

UVAC has a membership of approximately 60, including universities, colleges, awarding bodies, overseas institutions, Sector Skills Councils and individuals.

We believe in:

  • The importance of meeting the higher vocational learning needs of individuals and employers
  • The validity of work-based routes into practical, work-applied higher education – with no artificial barriers
  • The value of experiential and reflective learning
  • The value of work-based and work-related higher education learning

Our activities:

  • We work with our members and others to influence the quality and value of higher vocational learning
  • We research, provide information and organise events to support our aims
  • We support the recognition of prior learning and the national application of credit and transfer between educational institutions
  • We work with educational institutions, employers, governments and national agencies to enhance graduate employability and progression

Our successes over the recent past can be summarised as:

  1. Provided Extensive Support for HEIs Implementing Degree Apprenticeship – With the support of HEFCE UVAC:
  • Delivered 16 webinars and associated Q&A documents focused on all aspects of the ESFA Funding Rules and operational aspects of apprenticeship delivery, both as update sessions for experienced HEIs and deep dive sessions for HEIs new to apprenticeship delivery. Almost 300 places were booked across these sessions. The topics included:
    • Making a first application to the RoATP
    • End-point assessment and becoming an EPA Organisation
    • ESFA Funding Rules
    • Working with the Apprenticeship Service online
    • Performance Management and Technical Funding Rules
    • Subcontracting
  • Provided 39 surgery sessions to HEIs applying to the ESFA Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and the Invitation to Tender for non-levy Apprenticeship provision
  • Provided briefings on key aspects of the Apprenticeship system including two ‘on-boarding’ events for HEIs new to Apprenticeship delivery and on-going email and telephone support, HEI visits and sector briefing events
  • Produced templates for HEIs to use to deliver Degree Apprenticeship including an HEI and Employer Template Contract and Template Sub-Contractor Contract based on the ESFA Funding Rules and a Template Commitment Statement.

2. An Advocacy Voice that Makes a Difference – Working with partners UVAC:

  • Campaigned for HEFCE/QAA quality oversight of Degree Apprenticeship and Higher Apprenticeships based on prescribed HE qualifications – now agreed by DfE
  • Lobbied for increasing use of the Integrated Degree Apprenticeship model and QAA as the provider of external quality assurance – in principle agreed
  • Argued for earlier and greater HEI engagement in the Apprenticeship development process – now reflected in the Institute for Apprenticeship Trailblazer Guidance
  • Argued for more HE appropriate ESFA and IfA Apprenticeship systems – some progress, but substantially more work to be done!

3. Supported the HE sector plan the use of Apprenticeship Levy Payments – UVAC provided what Professor Jane Longmore, Vice Chancellor of the University of Chichester and Co-Convenor of the Higher Education Employer Trailblazer described as ‘essential’ support. The Trailblazer is developing the Academic Professional Apprenticeship Standard and potentially other standards for HE staff (subject to approval) including an HE Professional Apprenticeship Standard.

4. Supported Apprenticeship Trailblazers developing Degree Apprenticeship Standards of Significant Importance to the HE sector form HEI Provider Reference Groups (PRG) – A good example being the Social Work Degree Apprenticeship PRG in which 45 HEIs are engaged.

5. Raised the Profile of Academic Research in the Field of Higher Level Skills and Work-based Learning – Use of UVAC’s peer reviewed academic journal (published quarterly by Emerald) Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning has increase dramatically. Approximately 14,000 downloads were reported in 2016.  November 2016 also saw the publication of a special edition ‘Higher and Degree Apprenticeships: Creating the Future Workforce’.

6. Disseminated good practice in work-based learning through UVAC’s Annual Conference – the national event for disseminating good practice in higher level skills provision and approaches to work-based learning.

7. Established a Higher Education and Awarding Organisation Vocational Qualifications Committee, supported by Ofqual and UCAS and agreed a Programme of Development Work – This will enable HEIs to play a key role in the developing technical qualifications agenda, access new cohorts of potential students with different types of qualification and widen access and enhance social mobility.

8. Developed an extensive programme of support for the HE sector focused on Degree Apprenticeship and Technical Education for 2017/18 – UVAC has expanded our team and has planned an extensive programme of Degree Apprenticeship support for the HE sector. UVAC is well connected with HEFCE, DfE, ESFA and the Institute for Apprenticeship and will represent the HE sector on the skills, work-based learning and Apprenticeship agendas.