Higher and Degree Apprenticeships – Ensuring Compliance with the ESFA Funding Rules

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships – Ensuring Compliance with the ESFA Funding Rules


HEIs are committed to the delivery of high quality programmes that comply with the requirements of appropriate regulators.

Colleagues will be aware that delivery and promotion of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships must be undertaken in accordance with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Funding Rules.  ESFA’s Funding Rules are very detailed and contain strict requirements in relation to, for example, initial needs analysis, price negotiation with employers, tri-partite agreements, sub-contracting, ‘off-the-job’ learning, collection of any required co-investment and all evidence in support of delivery and end point assessment.  

Several HEIs have asked UVAC to share good practice on approaches adopted by HEIs to ensure they are fully compliant and fully prepared for audit and assurance review.  

UVAC’s support, for members, includes:

  • Checklists, templates and webinars on aspects of funding requirements
  • Contact details of HEI colleagues that are willing to share expertise in preparing for audit and checking compliance 
  • Degree Apprenticeship Knowledge Networks on aspects of programme and funding compliance
  • Details of specialist external audit/funding rules experts (please note we do not recommend any external organisation).

Compliance with ESFA Funding Rules is, of course, of fundamental importance. Even ‘technicality’ breaches could have severe implications for an institution including funding clawback.  

We would note that HEIs, like any other training provider, are funded to deliver an Apprenticeship.  This must be fully understood by every employer and every learner/apprentice. As such, the Apprenticeship levy must not be presented as available to fund part-time degree programmes.  In a Degree Apprenticeship, the degree is used to deliver the Apprenticeship programme, in accordance with ESFA Funding Rules; this must be reflected in both approaches to marketing and delivery. 

We look forward to continuing to work with the sector to ensure HEIs when delivering Apprenticeship provision do so in accordance with the requirements of the ESFA.  Please contact UVAC if you want to discuss the issues raised in this statement and for information on the support available.