Nick Linford

Nick Linford

Nick is ADI's director and apprenticeship expert

About Nick

University quality relatively high

According to the Ofsted website, of the 93 universities with apprenticeship starts 40 (43%) of them have had a full inspection, 27 (29%) have so far only had a New Provider Monitoring Visit and 26 (28%) have no report published of a visit. See pie chart below.

University Ofsted visits (or not)

Published reports as at 11 November 2023

No Data Found

Of the full inspection outcomes published so far, a massive 88% of universities were awarded a grade 1 or 2. See table below.


The universities that have not yet had a full inspection, but have been visited for a New Provider Monitoring Visit, just 1 (4%) received the lowest judgement (compared to around 20% for the sector). See table below.


Whilst Ofsted judgements are on average very positive for universities (more so than other provider types), what’s not clear, and Ofsted was unable or unwilling to explain to ADI, is why more than a quarter of universities have either not had a New Provider Monitoring Visit or if they have, it hasn’t been published. For example, the University of Northumbria At Newcastle have started well over 2000 apprentices in the last four years alone. Surely the ESFA should limit the number of starts any provider can undertake prior to their first Ofsted visit?

According to ESFA data, the volume of apprenticeship starts continues to grow, from 17,383 in 2018/19 to 28,958 in 2020/21 and when published on 24 November, the figure for 2021/22 is expected to be well excess of 30,000. See graph below.

University starts

Source: DfE data

No Data Found

University apprenticeships starts are nearly all (95%) at level 5, 6 and 7, with nearly half at level 6. See graph below.

University starts (three years)

Source: DfE data 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21

No Data Found

All the ADI analysis for each university can be downloaded as a spreadsheet here, and was used in an FE Week story, which can be read here.