MBA apprenticeship to live on despite attempt to axe

Universities are still planning to offer the MBA in the level 7 senior leader apprenticeship, despite the qualification being axed from the programme.

Earlier this month the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education launched a consultation on a revised version of the standard which scrapped all references to MBAs.

The apprenticeships quango said that requiring a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in the level 7 senior leader standard would no longer “meet the intent of our policy on mandated qualifications”.

It followed the education secretary Gavin Williamson’s request for a review of the popular programme, who said he was “unconvinced” it provides value for money.

However, the institute has this week confirmed to FE Week that providers would still be allowed to offer the MBA as a non-mandatory qualification, though costs for qualification registration, certification and any training not directly related to the standard would not be fundable from the levy.

The MBA will always remain a key part of our programme

An employer could choose to pay these costs out of their own pocket to enable their apprentice to acquire the qualification in addition to passing the apprenticeship via the end-point assessment.

Aston University, which has recruited almost 300 people on to the standard since its launch in February 2018, said the removal of the MBA component “does not mean we would automatically remove the MBA from our senior leader offer”.

A spokesperson added they would determine with the apprentice employers “if the most valuable vehicle for a level 7 senior leader programme remains an MBA qualification”.

“Then we would be keen to include it.”

But they said it was too early to say with certainty whether they would charge any additional fees.

The Henley Business School, which runs the senior leader programme for the University of Reading and has had 226 starts to date, said: “The Henley MBA will always remain a key part of our programme” – hinting that option will remain open for employers.

But, as the IfATE’s consultation is still live, the university’s spokesperson said they were “unable to comment on what changes we will make to our programme until the new standard and assessment plan is finalised”.

Many other universities, such as Exeter, Portsmouth, Liverpool John Moores, the Open University, and the biggest MBA provider – Cranfield University – all told FE Week they will wait until the standard is finalised before making any changes to their programme.

The University of Bradford launched a last-ditch recruitment drive for MBA apprentices last month as a result of the government’s review into the standard.

A spokesperson from the university told FE Week that they are “aware that this will be removed in future”, however, the “final version is not yet approved to affect existing delivery”.

The university will “engage in a review of our level 7 apprenticeship provision when the full, confirmed details of the new standard are published”.

The government’s review of the standard is planned to conclude by June 1.

The IfATE told FE Week that as the changes to the occupational standard and end-point assessment plan are likely to be “significant”, they expect to consider the funding band, which currently sits at £18,000.

The senior leader apprenticeship has proven extremely popular since its launch in February 2018. FE Week analysis shows it had 6,387 starts on the programme up to the first quarter of 2019-20.

As each of these attracted up to £18,000 of levy funding – it means as much as £115 million has been spent on this standard to date.


MoJ ploughs ahead with £2m tender for MBA apprentices

A government department is ploughing ahead with a £2 million hunt for MBA apprentices to “enhance social mobility” despite the qualification being axed from apprenticeships.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is tendering for providers to deliver the level 7 senior leader degree apprenticeship with an attached Masters of Business Administration or Masters of Science.

That’s despite the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education removing the MBA component following a review called for by education secretary Gavin Williamson.

The MoJ told FE Week it was aware of this, but as “no changes have been made” officially yet, they will continue to recruit MBA apprentices.

The Department for Education said that while the review is under way, it is up to providers and employers to decide how to recruit and promote apprenticeship standards.

The ministry wants to deliver the MBA apprenticeship because, the tender document says, “senior leadership capability is a key priority for the department and there is currently no apprenticeship on offer to fill this learning gap”.

Offering the apprenticeships will “enhance the MoJ social mobility strategy by allowing employees who did not attend university to gain higher-level qualifications while in the workplace”.

Applicants for the MoJ tender have been asked to submit bids by April 30.