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Monday, 1 December 2014

Learn and earn with a degree apprenticeship

Would-be students aiming to acquire a maths degree may well be tempted to study at a university in the Middle East. Understandable, really, given the crucial role the region played in the development of mathematics, beginning some 8,000 years ago.

Of course, back then, organized agriculture began to dominate and shape society. Thus, for the first time, there was a need to divide up land accurately, work out crop yields, and then at some point collect the appropriate amount of taxes from the farmers of the day. Mathematics made all of that possible.

Golden age

Move forward seven millennia, to the golden age of science and mathematics which flourished under the Islamic Empire. This golden age, which began in the 9th century and then lasted for 600 years, saw high points such as the widespread adoption of the Hindu numerical system (1-9 and 0) and the development of algebra, the abstract mathematical language we all love and still use today.

Indeed, modern-day students embarked on a master of science in mathematics or similar degree programme might do well to spend a minute or two reflecting on the genius of Persian mathematicians Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi and Muhammad Al-Karaji, both giants of the golden age.

Government initiative

However, if homage is out of the question and the Middle East a little too far away for comfort, there's always the UK to fall back on, even although the competition for a university place gets tougher by the year. But now there could be another option open to students, the degree apprenticeship.

This latest UK government initiative, launched this month (November 2014), allows young people to complete a full honours degree alongside their employment while paying no student fees and earning a wage throughout. Sounds like a very promising idea, one which is likely to prove popular, too.

The scheme will start rolling out in September 2015 and is aimed, in the first instance, at the digital sector. It should particularly suit people embarking on careers ranging from business analysis to software development and technology consultancy.

A fully-integrated degree

And according to the government, the new programme includes a fully-integrated degree, testing both academic learning and on-the-job practical training, and has been co-created by leading tech employers and top universities.

A number of employers involved in the Tech Partnership, a group of firms working together to create the skills and jobs the digital industry needs, have already committed to offering degree apprenticeships.

These include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, CGI, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services.

Universities including Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London, University of the West of England and Winchester will be supporting the courses and are working with employers to offer these degrees.

One million vacancies

Tech Partnership board member and Capgemini UK chairman Christine Hodgson, said, “The government's support for this new route into employment will enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and will help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy.”

It is hoped the initiative will help to fill the one million vacancies expected in the digital sector in the next decade. Prospective apprentices will be able to apply to the companies offering degree apprenticeships once the vacancies are advertised next year. These companies will then work with the relevant universities to select the students most able to be successful in both the degree and their career.

Two-thirds of the costs of the training and course fees will be paid by the government and employers will fund the rest, including the wages of apprentices.

Why Freelancing is Perfect for University Students

We understand that being able to financially survive at university can be a real struggle for you students. Come the end of each term, you’re most likely picking pennies from your wallet after you pretty much drained your student finance on heavy drinking and microwave meals. When it comes to making money as a student, you tend to get yourselves a part time job in a local cafe or bar just to cover over the cracks of your damaged bank balance, but realistically you’re too lazy to get off your backside and go look for one. If this sounds like you then we're going to tell you why going freelance is ideal for you as a student.

First of all, it gets you money, that’s right you get paid, it’s money that you have earned all by yourself and you didn't have to beg mum and dad! Freelancing is a great hobby to have as it expands across many professions, from writing to design. Who wouldn't want to earn money from what you love doing? Just remember that it isn't easy money, freelancing requires a lot of hard work, organisation and determination.

Now, we are aware that you all have a lot of essay writing and revision to be getting on with, but
when you think of it, freelancing is the perfect revision tactic. For all those writers out there, it helps you practice your essay writing techniques and gives you an alternative revision method other than staring at your messy note book day in day out. As for designers, how is it beneficial you guys? Well, a stronger portfolio for starters, and your projects would be a great inclusion for all your coursework, and can put you a few steps ahead of everyone else when it comes to those all important interviews. 

Once you eventually graduate from university, the next stage is obviously to find yourself a job but, let’s be honest, you aren't going to just walk into one just because you have a degree. Many students walked out of university years ago with their qualification and are still unemployed. Freelancing may be your only option, but with your experience during university you should have no problem getting started. It’s almost like being a student full time. Writing essays, managing your own time and meeting deadlines.The knowledge you learned on your course will play into your favour and will benefit your understanding of the clients’ desires if you wish to use your degree as your specialist topic.

OK, so you’ve made the decision to be a freelancer but you may be worried about the irregularity of money in the industry. Whilst you may wish to move forward and buy that dream house for yourself or your family, the unbalanced income holds you back from gaining a mortgage. However companies such as Contractor Financials who work with contractors and freelancers will be able to financially support you throughout your career.

Freelancing is about building good relationships with your clients. If you can deliver the goods then the client will come back for more, and they may even bring a few friends into the picture. It’s about making a name for yourself, and you want people saying all the right things about you. The more you deliver then the more you’re rewarded with. For more information and tips on becoming a freelancer, check out this article from The Guardian. Oh and don't forget to keep a beady eye on the latest jobs on StudentGems as well!