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The arrival of Oxbridge apprenticeships – what does it mean for you?

Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes

JESSICA LAMBERT , 27 January, 2023

A hugely important development for the Apprenticeship market has hit the mainstream news today after flying under the radar for a week. Cambridge University have been approved to deliver apprenticeships and, for now, intend to pitch this at the post graduate level for levy paying firms in and around their location. Great news for businesses and their staff that can utilise this resource, mixed news for competitor providers. Ask yourself this; if you had decided to undertake a degree or postgrad apprenticeship which provider name would you like to have on your CV? Cambridge University a respected global bastion of education or Apprentices4U based in your local Town?

However, for the time being, all is still to play for in the world of apprenticeship delivery. The entry of a world-renowned University to the apprenticeship space, along with a flood of c. 300 other new providers, carries both threats and opportunities. For existing apprenticeship providers, some of which have been operating in the space for many years prior to the introduction of the levy what does this mean and how can you use it to your advantage?


  • There is now greater competition in the delivery of apprenticeships than there has ever been. Are you positioned to rise above others in a crowded market?
  • The number of starts has not yet picked up, especially in the SME market. What will be the impact of this on your business when your existing customer pool is under threat, not just your sales activity to gain new customers.
  • What is your USP? In a crowded market place differentiation is key
  • Is this now a race to the bottom in terms of pricing? Can you afford to run as lean as some of your competition will attempt to?
  • Is selling on quality and track record viable? Are your customers actually telling you this is their greatest concern or are long-standing providers just hoping this will bear fruit in the long term?
  • Ofsted have confirmed that they have little hope of getting around all the new providers quickly enough. Will inexperienced providers give your customers a bad experience of apprenticeships overall before you have even approached them?


  • With the addition of an Oxbridge University to the provider list the profile of apprenticeships has risen exponentially. Can you gain leverage from this development with your target customers?
  • For existing providers with a non-levy allocation you are ahead of the game. All the new provider entrants are stuck chasing levy payers which is a really tough market. There are some huge and recognisable brands out there now and you are fortunate enough not to have to compete with them…. Yet!
  • The sales process has changed fundamentally for the apprenticeship market and must clearly target candidates themselves rather than just employers. This means your brand is more important than ever before. If you are a specialist provider you have a chance to really shine. Why would a candidate want an apprenticeship delivered by you as opposed to your competitors?
  • There is an opportunity to grow and capture more of the market. In a crowded provider world, you do need your business to grow quickly and be sustainable, whatever your aspirations but the opportunity is there for the taking. The clock is ticking on this while SME take up remains low and a significant number of levy payers are still dormant.
  • A chance to invest in growth. There is help available to finance your drive towards capturing more customers and retaining those you already have. You can scale up your business rapidly as long as the cash is there to spend on growth and you can retain the quality that has enabled you to keep pace in this market for a number of years. The costs associated with upgrading Marketing, Sales and Staffing are high but there is no getting around these fundamentals for growth and they will mean that you are in a much stronger position in this new competitive world.

How can Nucleus help?

The Education team at Nucleus have designed a solution for these challenges. Apprenticeship Finance is a full collections and financing facility for employer contributions which enables providers to focus on sales and delivery rather than multiple invoice collection and administration. Crucially, our product has gained approval with the Skills Funding Agency and is fully compliant with the new apprenticeship funding rules. With Apprenticeship Finance, Nucleus will prepay the employer contribution to the provider, unlocking immediate access to the 90% funding from the SFA, then undertake all the due diligence and credit control function for the subsequent payments from employers.

We also offer a specialist levy-based product to accelerate your funding stream and create cash for growth, as well as our existing HE and FE funding acceleration products.

For more details please contact us at [email protected] or find out more by downloading our brochure.





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