This month, Staffordshire University is holding the first International Conference on Delivery and Policy of Degree and Higher Apprenticeships in our flagship Catalyst building on our Stoke-on-Trent campus.

Taking place on the 22 June, this will be the first inclusive gathering of key players involved in advancing Degree and Higher Apprenticeships from the UK and overseas and features senior leaders from Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), Institute for Apprentices and Technical Education (IfATE), the Quality Assurance Agency for HE (QAA), Universities UK (UUK), MillionPlus, University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB).

Professor Martin Jones,
Vice-Chancellor, Staffordshire University









The conference is hosted by our Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Raheel Nawaz, who has helped launch Degree Apprenticeships across three continents and was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his ground-breaking work. He will also present initial findings from the QAA collaborative project on pedagogies in Degree Apprenticeships, the first large-scale study on this subject.

Robert Halfon and Professor Martin Jones meeting degree apprentices









As well as a session on international perspectives on apprenticeships, featuring  senior leaders from providers in Canada, New Zealand and Spain, attendees will also hear from employers and apprentices from companies including AJ Bell and Lloyds Banking Group, who are benefiting from the “earn while you learn” progression pathway.

Degree apprenticeships now make up a significant part of our next generation education provision – a fact openly welcomed by the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education the Rt Honourable Robert Halfon who visited our campus recently to talk to our degree apprentices about their experiences and motivations. But as with all education programmes, there is a need to review, research and evaluate what we do, how we deliver and importantly what impacts these are having.

At Staffordshire University, we have set up the Staffordshire Centre of Learning and Pedagogic Practice with the aim of developing evidence-informed pedagogic practice which connects learning and teaching to social mobility. Colleagues from our specialist centre are working on projects which includes TASO commissioned research into initiatives to tackle the ethnicity awarding gap to our own sector-leading work on Microcredentials and Phenomenon Based Learning and we will be sharing our findings at an international conference we are holding in November.

As I write this, our campus is alive with our final year degree shows, most notably the Degree Show, which showcases the phenomenal talents of more than 300 creative students from across our Art, Design, Media and Performances courses.

Creative student from one of the Art, Design, Media and Performances courses









We also welcome industry experts on to campus for GradEX 2023, a showcase exhibition of student’s final year projects, which helps to demonstrate just how work and world-ready our students are.

And I’m delighted to say that the emphasis we place on employability and teaching entrepreneurial skills has recently been recognised with a Top 10 for Career Prospects in the WhatUni Student Choice Awards 2023.

As we near the end of another academic year, I take this opportunity to wish my colleagues at Midlands Enterprise Universities all the best and I look forward to building on our collective expertise and working collaboratively to positively support the region’s economy.


Professor Martin Jones,
Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive, Staffordshire University