degree apprenticeships
There are many benefits to doing an apprenticeship, chief among them, graduating without debt. Source: Martin Bureau/AFP

Do you know you can gain work experience on top of your studies through a degree apprenticeship? If you are an international student, this article will give you an idea of what it is about, who can apply, and where you can do it.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

In the simplest sense, a degree apprenticeship is an opportunity to combine two different desires: university studies and paid work experience. With a degree apprenticeship, you will receive a bachelor’s or master’s degree upon completion of a programme.

Are international students eligible to take up a degree apprenticeship?

Yes, international students are eligible in certain countries. As long as you have a valid permit or visa, and follow all legal rules, you may apply for a degree apprenticeship.

A degree apprenticeship is most suitable for a person who:

  • Knows what kind of career to embark upon
  • Prefers work-related learning while being able to commit to both work and study
  • Can start work, and be based in the workplace
  • Can manage demands arising from both work and university studies
  • Enjoys a mixture of assessments such as assignments, essays, reports, practical activities and exams
degree apprenticeship

International students are eligible for degree apprenticeships in several countries. Source: Getty Images/AFP

Where can I apply for a degree apprenticeship?

You can apply for a degree apprenticeship in the UK – however, do note that their law considers apprenticeships as full-time jobs so you should not exceed the allowed work time.

Unfortunately, Australia does not allow international students to do apprenticeships as they are considered a government subsidy scheme for Australian citizens and permanent residents. Students can, however, apply for a trade course.

Elsewhere in Europe, international students are welcome to apply for an apprenticeship, especially in Germany (where a certificate as “skilled worker” is awarded as a degree) and France (first-year master’s student or applicants on training programmes approved by the Conférence des Grandes Écoles — find training options here).

How long does a degree apprenticeship last?

The duration varies from country to country. For example, Germany’s training programme is usually three years.

What kind of degree apprenticeships can I apply for?

The choices are wide-ranging. You can take up apprenticeships in architecture, car mechanics, carpentry, sales, business and administration and even construction.

Why should I consider applying for a degree apprenticeship?

The benefits are endless. A top reason is that the degree apprenticeship is usually paid for by your employer and/or the government, which means you won’t need to go into debt for your university studies.

Through an apprenticeship, you will learn while earning a salary, and enjoy close mentoring and support from your employer.

Another advantage is being able to apply the lessons from the classroom to your work, which will help you to understand your course better. Some apprenticeship programmes may include guaranteed employment, which makes it ideal for international students seeking work opportunities abroad.

The best part is you are still considered a student, so you can enjoy all the student perks and discounts too!

Is there anything else I should know before applying for a degree apprenticeship?

Yes, especially if you plan to apply in Germany, France or the UK. No degree apprenticeship is the same across different countries as some may have language requirements.

In Germany, for instance, all foreigners, regardless of age, can apply for a German apprenticeship as long as they have at least B1 German proficiency, completed between nine and 10 years of education, and secured employment by a German company. Graduates can continue to work in the same company or undertake further studies.

Non-EU international students doing an apprenticeship in France should note that if the number of contract hours exceeds 964 hours per year, the employer must apply for a temporary work permit with the Ministry of the Interior.

In the UK, different types of apprenticeships have various entry requirements. For instance, the Degree category requires five GCSEs and Level 3 qualifications such as A-Levels, NVQ/SVQ Level 3, or the BTEC National.