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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

A critical review of the strategic and operational challenges in service delivery of the chartered manager degree apprenticeship by an alternative provider.

Mapletoft, Nicholas (2020) A critical review of the strategic and operational challenges in service delivery of the chartered manager degree apprenticeship by an alternative provider. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This study undertakes a critical review of the strategic and operational challenges in service delivery of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) by an alternative provider of higher education (HE), following the implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy in England. It explores some of the main tensions that are likely to affect the success of establishing an alternative provider of HE and degree apprenticeship delivery, taking account of provider staff, employers and learners. The subject of study the intrinsic case study company is the University Centre Quayside (UCQ), a small market disrupting alternative provider of HE delivering the CMDA. UCQ provides adult education predominantly in the North East of England but is increasingly expanding nationwide. The study explores the evolution of HE, the concept of ‘value’, WBL and the introduction of degree apprenticeships, and how these themes then converge, the resulting tensions and possible impact on success.

Research approach
Following an interpretivist and constructivist philosophy, mixed methods were employed involving questionnaires, then interviews and focus groups for triangulation of data across employers, students and staff. Quantitative data was analysed in Excel, looking for statistical and visual differences, and using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), qualitative results were transcribed and then thematically analysed using NVivo.

Key findings
The key findings are that there is a significant difference of understanding between provider staff, the employers and students as to what a ‘higher’ education should be, especially in terms of civicness. National employers want national, rather than place-based, provision. Programme contextualisation is very important to the employers and the students; but can be challenging for the provider. A majority of apprentices believe that their employer (as the perceived funder) should see a financial return on their investment, equally apprentices felt they should personally achieve a financial benefit from participation. Employers appear to be formalizing their training needs analysis, perhaps in response to the Levy and the availability of higher level programmes.

There is much written about private provision of HE, marketization and consumerization, but there is little research. There is even less research originating from within a private provider. This study contributes to the HE WBL community and although the main beneficiary is UCQ, the results are intended to be of value to alternative and existing HE providers delivering degree apprenticeships. Degree apprenticeships are new (in England) and there is little understanding of the tensions between the providers, employers, students and funders, and how they may be overcome. This study contributes to the body of knowledge in this area and is expected to stimulate further debate and study within the community of practice.

This study found that employers, learners and provider staff believe it is important that there should be a return from the degree apprenticeship that should be of value to the employer and the learner, but measuring such value is difficult. The degree apprenticeship should take account of recognition of prior learning, however there is no standardized approach. Assessments need to be heavily contextualized, and staff and students differ in opinion on whether this is the case. There is a suggestion that providers need to deliver nationally and with industry specialism(s), and there is disagreement between provider staff, and employers and their staff, on whether the programme should include civic development. HE work-based learning providers may need to share resources in order to cost effectively deliver nationally. Employers do not see themselves as really being ‘in the driving seat’ because the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Institute for Apprenticeships make and change policy and pricing to suit their political agenda.

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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 11563

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Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2020 10:28
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2022 08:51


Author: Nicholas Mapletoft
Thesis advisor: Derek Watson

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