Apprenticeship vs University

Abigail McLaren

Mar 16 2018

Abigail McLaren

I started my level 2 Business Administration with the Council in November 2017, working in Business Support within Culture, Communities & Business Services (CCBS). Before this I did a year of International Hospitality and Tourism Management at university. I have noticed a huge difference in these two experiences that I’d like to share.


It is a well known fact that university loans can leave some people in a huge amount of debt. For me personally, even knowing that this would be paid back in very small amounts I don’t like to owe people money so it just did not sit well with me. However, on my apprenticeship not only is my course funded but I’m actually being paid to get the experience and do my job!


One of the main problems I had with university was that I did not know who to go to when I didn’t understand something or wanted some help. Lectures were presented by different people and they had to help 180 people understand something all at once. The ratio was not good, whereas now I have a mentor, a line manager, a tutor and numerous other people who will help me when I have a problem. Result!


Something they tell you all the time at university is that experience will get you very far in industry. But I had to wait until third year to go on my placement and gain experience, and then I was expected to go back to university for my final year rather than carrying on with the role. Of course one of the biggest advantages of an apprenticeship is that you gain the experience while you learn, and for me personally I have learnt things on my course that I can use in my daily working life and there are things I do in my job that can benefit my course.


I don’t mind sitting down and writing an essay from time to time, but on my university course there was not much variety at all. Doing this apprenticeship I not only have variety in the way I choose to complete assignments but I also have a working week full of various tasks and requests to deal with. I find this keeps my brain ticking over and I enjoy it a lot more.

Work-life balance

This concept is discussed a lot in my department, and it’s something I struggled with at university. As there are very few contact hours, you are expected to do individual study for most of the week. However there were no set hours for this, and the library was often very full! So trying to work from my flat meant that I couldn’t wind down at the end of the day and have the satisfaction of leaving work behind and focusing on my hobbies. Now, I can go home at 5:00pm and not have to worry that I should be doing work because I can do it the next day. This has made a hugely positive impact on my life.

This is not to say, don’t do a degree. For some people it’s a very beneficial experience and they gain a lot from it. But for me, it’s apprenticeship all the way!