This month we hosted our Higher Education (HE) User Forum, bringing together the Aptem Team and university clients to share insight and knowledge, discuss pressing issues and gather feedback on Aptem.
We had the privilege of being joined by Mandy Crawford-Lee from the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), along with guest speakers Kerry Boffey from the Fellowship of Inspection Nominees (FIN) and Peter Stacey from Adult Learning Improvement Network (ALIN), as they discussed the Ofsted inspections of degree apprenticeships, the potential challenges and logical approaches to overcoming these.
November’s forum was the third to be hosted online and, although we would typically host the forum as a face-to-face event, it continues to grow in popularity with forty colleagues from the sector in attendance.
Getting matters underway, Paul Mullins, Aptem Chairman, and Kerry Boffey touched on the existing ESFA requirements that must be met by universities delivering degree apprenticeships and the forthcoming introduction of additional requirements during Ofsted inspections as it becomes the single quality assurance body for degree apprenticeships.
Next on the agenda was a presentation by Kerry and Peter, defining how FIN supports providers. FIN is a membership organisation that focuses on quality and inspection and seeks to reduce and remove the panic of Ofsted inspections, whilst maximising outcomes and minimising risk. Composed of a team of former inspectors, FIN offers providers support and resources, helping them remain inspection ready throughout the year. During the forum, Kerry Boffey and Peter Stacey provided managers and staff working in HE with greater insight into the inspection process undertaken by Ofsted.
After a short refreshment break, Steve Dewhurst, Aptem HE Product Director, shared universities’ replies to an Aptem survey, which included the following responses:
- Apprenticeships are a significant and important, although still relatively small, part of what universities offer. Some universities see them as an opportunity to replace falling undergraduate provision.
- Apprenticeships help meet the needs of the employers that universities have already been working with as part of their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
- There are concerns about falling funding bands and threats to particular Apprenticeship Standards.
- With lockdown, universities are seeing slightly worse-than-expected recruitment this autumn, but still anticipate overall growth.
- Ofsted is viewed as an additional hurdle by some universities. However, it is recognised there is a need to put in place plans and processes to manage compliance and inspection and to further raise awareness amongst academic colleagues about the quality framework.
Steve highlighted that Aptem has been fortunate enough to experience client growth during lockdown and has used this growth to increase development capacity to meet the future needs of clients. We have introduced a new team to focus on product development, design, and functionality to respond to our diverse clients’ needs.
Mike Sims, Chief Product Officer, shared details of the Aptem product roadmap, including exciting features such as the Aptem Employer Console, Aptem’s Tutor Console, Multi-Factor Authentication, new integrations, and much more.
Before bringing the forum to a close, forum attendees were invited to ask the Aptem Team technical questions and suggestions on how to better utilise Aptem.
The next Higher Education Forum will be held toward the end of January and we look forward to sharing more insights then.