Education Secretary Gillian Keegan MP opens new apprenticeships and professional development centre at the University of Exeter

The UK’s Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, has opened a new learning facility that will support skills growth in the workforce as well as thousands of students looking to develop their careers and professional expertise.

The Centre for Degree Partnerships has been established by the University of Exeter to drive the growth of degree apprenticeships, support its relationship with hundreds of sponsoring employers across the region, nationally and overseas, and its portfolio of continuing professional development programmes.

On a visit to the University on Monday, Ms Keegan unveiled a plaque to open the Centre and met some of the apprentices and employers who are benefitting from its work. She also took a tour of some of the University’s cutting-edge facilities and met with South West education leaders to discuss wider developments in the region.

“Exeter’s new Centre for Degree Partnerships is a fantastic demonstration of their commitment to expanding their degree apprenticeship offer,” said Ms Keegan. “We need more universities and colleges to follow their lead and help people from all backgrounds to access these brilliant opportunities.

“My apprenticeship gave me valuable skills that I have used throughout my working life, and kickstarted a successful business career. Whether it is in engineering, healthcare, technology or finance, I know the students here will go on to secure highly skilled jobs that help boost their local economy.”

The Education Secretary was welcomed to Exeter’s Streatham campus by Professor Lisa Roberts, the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, and Sir Michael Barber, its Chancellor.

After opening the Centre for Degree Partnerships, Ms Keegan spoke with some of the apprentices and their sponsoring employers, hearing about their experiences with the programmes – many of which are tailored specifically to the individual business need or learning opportunity.

Since launching its first programme in 2016, Exeter has become the largest provider of degree apprenticeships in the Russell Group. Now a key element of its education provision, Exeter’s degree apprenticeships cover multiple sectors including civil engineering, healthcare, digital technology, and management and finance. More than 2,500 students are enrolled across this portfolio, and it has led to partnerships with more than 200 organisations including the NHS, IBM, Amazon and JP Morgan.

“Degree apprenticeships and professional courses are vitally important because they extend and enhance the ways in which we support learners at different stages of their career,” said Professor Roberts. “They also enable us to forge new partnerships with employers as many of these programmes respond directly to their needs and to broader societal ambitions to increase productivity, grow jobs and address skills opportunities. So, we were delighted to welcome Rt Hon Gillian Keegan, MP, and have her launch this exciting next stage in our support for professional learning.”