Introducing the Academic Professional Apprenticeship (APA)
Apprenticeship provision is growing rapidly within Higher Education. Apprenticeships provide a route to qualification that combines work and study to build profession specific knowledge, skills, values and behaviours that can help to accelerate careers.
The Academic Professional Apprenticeship is a level 7 apprenticeship. It was designed in 2018 by industry experts for those who are new to higher education and contains two pathways, teaching and research. The aim of the apprenticeship is to take individuals from entry point through to full professional competence.
The University has been offering the APA as a development pathway to eligible new academics since June 2019. The programme is managed and delivered by the team in the Lincoln Academy of Learning and Teaching (LALT).
How does the APA work?
When you enrol on an apprenticeship programme, you become a full-time apprentice. For each week of your apprenticeship, you will spend a proportion of your time learning and developing in the workplace (on-the-job training), and a proportion of your time developing new knowledge, skills and behaviours with a chosen educational provider. This is known as off-the-job training and LALT are the provider for the APA programme.
For a full-time academic, this would typically mean that four days a week are spent in the workplace carrying out your specified job role, and one day a week is spent in seminars, workshops and studying for your qualification.
The knowledge, skills and behaviours that you must demonstrate by the end of the programme are set out in the apprenticeship standard. You can find a copy of this on the Institute for Apprenticeships website.
How is the programme structured?
The APA programme is 22 months in length. Each new cohort enrols in February and will complete prior to Christmas of the following year.
The programme has three key elements:
- An extended induction/orientation period
- The practical period
- An End Point Assessment (EPA) period
The practical period is the time during which you will be actively engaged in study to develop new knowledge, skills and behaviours that are necessary for academic practice. During this practical period, you will be required to compile a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates how each of the criterion within the apprenticeship standard have been met. Some of this evidence will be generated through assessments that you are set, and some will be generated through activities within the workplace.
Once an apprentice has compiled evidence against all aspects of the standard, they pass into the End Point Assessment Period where an external organisation (The Learning Institute) will conduct a final, independent assessment.
How will I be supported to learn?
Apprenticeships are a three-way partnership between an employer, a provider and the apprentice. Throughout the APA programme you will be supported by your line manager, a work-based mentor and the APA programme delivery team (based in LALT). You will meet with your mentor once a month to discuss your development in the workplace and identify gaps and opportunities. At least every 12-weeks you will meet with the APA programme leader and your work-based mentor in what is called a tripartite review to assess your progress towards evidencing the APA standard and identify any requirements for additional support or opportunities to stretch your practice further. One of the recognised strengths of this programme is the high level of support provided for participants.
Alongside this you will have access to specialist services within Student Wellbeing, the library and the Student Support Centre.
What will I get at the end of the programme?
If you successfully complete the programme, you will receive a certificate of completion from the Institute for Apprenticeships to state that you have completed a level 7 qualification that demonstrates your proficiency as an academic professional. At the University of Lincoln, we have embedded a Postgraduate Diploma in Policy and Practice in Higher Education into the delivery of the practical period. This contains four, 30-credit modules that are designed to help you develop new knowledge and skills. Successful completion of the assessments for this programme means that you will also exit your apprenticeship with a Postgraduate Diploma (a recognised teaching qualification in HE) and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).
What are the benefits of undertaking the programme?
On successful completion of this programme, participants will be fully competent to perform their roles in Higher Education. Depending on the specialist role taken, they will be well placed to actively contribute to key agendas around the National Student Survey, Teaching Excellence Framework, Research Excellence Framework and the sharing of practice across schools. Many of our recent graduates have progressed to take on leadership roles and responsibilities within their schools and are now actively supporting and mentoring the development of other colleagues. Alongside the qualifications gained, confidence seems to be one of the key benefits to undertaking the programme. Many of our graduates have expressed the benefits of understanding the theory that underpins academic practice as this gives them the confidence to make and justify decisions, reflect on, change and develop practice within their schools. This in turn can have a significant impact on the student experience.
What do I need from my School?
Each apprentice will require a work-based mentor. Schools will be expected to identify an appropriate mentor for each apprentice at the point of application, who should hold HEA D2 or an equivalent teaching qualification. Each mentor will receive initial and ongoing development and training by the APA programme team. Undertaking this role is rewarding in itself, but it also provides great evidence for anyone wishing to apply for Senior Fellowship of Advance HE (SF HEA) or needs to remain in good standing.
In addition to a work-based mentor, Schools must commit to releasing a minimum of 6 hours of each apprentice’s time each week to enable them to meet the programme requirements.
What is the next step?
Programme Leader Dr Kelly Sisson and Dean of LALT Dr Kate Strudwick are very happy to liaise with Heads of School or those interested in joining the programme. We welcome new cohorts every February and recruit during the Autumn beforehand. Staff wishing to join the programme should email APA@lincoln.ac.uk