Study group

Cumbria’s university recognised by Ofsted for quality of apprenticeship provision

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has awarded the University of Cumbria a ‘good’ rating for its apprenticeship provision.

Following its recent four-day inspection, Ofsted has adjudged the overall effectiveness of the university’s apprenticeship provision to be ‘good’. The same rating has also been given to all five categories: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, and apprenticeships.

The University of Cumbria currently has more than 2,000 learners on employer-backed higher and degree apprenticeships, many on paramedic, project manager, registered nurse and professional forester apprenticeships programmes.

Praise for the university’s provision includes the ambitions, characteristics, and development of its apprentices; individualised support given by leaders and staff; and the high quality of facilities and resources benefitting learners.

Among comments, Ofsted states that University of Cumbria apprentices:

  • ‘consistently demonstrate highly professional behaviours and attitudes to their learning and work’;
  • are proud to serve their communities, with healthcare apprentices showing ‘high levels of support for the people they care for’;
  • ‘develop their character, confidence and resilience because of what they learn during their apprenticeship’;
  • ‘benefit from very well-equipped facilities and high-quality resources’; and
  • ‘are motivated to learn and are ambitious to achieve their qualifications and work-related targets’.

In addition, leaders and managers are commended for ‘accurately identifying local, regional and national needs shortages in areas such as health, project management and forestry’. The university is also recognised for its work with employers to upskill workforces and national bodies to help them meet government initiatives as well as national skills needs, designing ‘ambitious apprenticeships that are accessible nationally’.

Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell (pictured) said: “We introduced degree apprenticeships to capitalise on our strengths and to address employer needs, with a strong focus on collaborative working with sectors, employers, professional bodies and education partners.

Professor Julie Mennell DL

“Seven years on, we are one of the largest providers of degree apprenticeships in the country, with over 2,000 degree apprentices across programmes covering Paramedicine, Project Management, Senior Leadership, Nursing, Diagnostic Radiography, Healthcare and Forestry and with additional funding from the Office for Students to expand even further.

“It is therefore very pleasing, to have achieved Ofsted Good across all aspects of our provision and to be praised by Ofsted for the excellent collaborative working we have with employers and the experience, knowledge and skills of our staff.”

Professor Mennell continues: “I am very proud of the many colleagues who have contributed to this growth and outcome, which placed alongside the TEF Silver award and the ‘Good’ Ofsted ITE [Initial Teacher Education] outcome we received in 2023, indicates the progress the university is making in delivering on our strategic mission and purpose.”

The university’s apprenticeship provision was previously inspected in 2019 where the visit covered a small number of learners on two programmes. In contrast, the recent inspection has witnessed the growth of provision, with now approximately 2,000 learners on 12 programmes.

University of Cumbria trains a range of healthcare apprenticeships and is the leading provider of Paramedic Apprenticeships in England.

It is also the largest provider of Diagnostic Radiography. The university will be showcasing this at the UK’s largest imaging and oncology event - the UKIO conference – that takes place in Liverpool this week (10-12 June).

Cumbria offers the following apprenticeships:

Advanced Clinical Practitioner, Nursing Associate, Registered Nurse, Midwife, Paramedic, Assistant Practitioner (Health), Diagnostic Radiography, Youth Work, Chartered Manager, Senior Leader, Police Constable, Professional Forester, Project Manager, Creative Digital Design Professional, and Digital User Experience (UX) Professional.

As part of its mission to drive higher-level skills, the university is receiving significant investment from the Office for Students to further expand its Level 6 degree apprenticeship provision. More than £600,000 has already been awarded in 2024.

Employers and prospective apprentices can find out more about opportunities at


Notes to editors

Notes to editors

  1. For interviews, contact the university communications team – (e), (t) 01228 279360
  2. Latest and previous Ofsted reports can be found:
  3. OfS funding to expand degree apprenticeships: