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Higher Apprenticeship

Nursing Associate

Developed in partnership with NHS trusts and other health and care partners, the creation of the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship is a landmark innovation for the nursing and care professions.

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What is the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship?

Consisting of learning in both academic and practice settings, the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship equips learners with the skills and professional competence to support the delivery of high quality care, both now and in the future.

Delivered over two years, this programme is intended to be a self-standing Level 5 qualification. However, it can also provide the basis for further study, including the BSc (Hons) in Nursing and the Nursing Degree Apprenticeship, both of which are available at University of Gloucestershire.

As no two learners are the same, assessment is through a range of methods including essays, projects, presentations, portfolios and exams, as well as through the demonstration of clinical competence.

This higher apprenticeship is delivered through a blended approach consisting of learning in both academic and practice settings. Theoretical content is taught at the university and includes 41 study days, per year. The first year begins with a two-week introductory block.

For three days per week, apprentices are based in their own place of work, or they can be rotated to different departments depending on their employer’s needs. They also get to spend a full five week block per semester on an ‘away’ placement with a host organisation. This mix gives apprentices the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test in a variety of settings, as well as in their own workplace.

This programme is regulated by:

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The Nursing Associate role

A comparison of the roles and responsibilities of a nursing associate versus a registered nurse (source: NMC)

Nursing AssociateRegistered Nurse
Be an accountable professionalBe an accountable professional
Promoting health and preventing ill healthPromoting health and preventing ill health
Provide and monitor careProvide and evaluate care
Working in teamsLeading and managing nursing care and
working in teams
Improving safety and quality of careImproving safety and quality of care
Contributing to integrated careCoordinating care
Assessing needs and planning care

What are Higher Apprenticeships?

Higher apprenticeships are a fantastic way to upskill employees and train new staff. They contribute to improved competitiveness and productivity, as well as increased staff retention.

Apprentices study for higher level qualifications alongside working. As such, they spend at least 6 working hours each week carrying out ‘off-the-job training’ where they study for their qualification and gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are required to successfully complete the apprenticeship.

Large employers can use their apprenticeships levy to pay for apprenticeship training. Smaller firms can claim up to 95 per cent of these costs from the Government. This means apprenticeships are a cost-effective choice for both the employer and learner.

Claire Underwood

Meet the lecturer

Claire Underwood, Subject Leader

Claire qualified as an adult nurse in 1991, from Queen Elizabeth College of Nursing.

She began her career in female medicine at Birmingham’s General Hospital, before becoming a Senior Staff Nurse in Coronary Care at Selly Oak Hospital.

Claire then spent 17 years teaching English to nurses overseas, continuing her clinical practice in various roles throughout this time.

She returned to the UK in 2010, working in Penrith Minor Injury Unit alongside completing her teaching qualifications.

She began teaching at University College Birmingham in 2012 and took on the role of Programme Manager for Health Care Apprenticeships in 2018. She was involved in the development and validation of the university’s first BSc Nursing degree.

Claire joined UoG as a Senior Lecturer in 2021, before becoming the Programme Lead for our Nursing Associate Apprenticeship in September 2022.

Claire is passionate about supporting learners on their journey from nervous students to confident professionals. In particular, she enjoys seeing this transformation in apprentices – especially those who left school never believing that higher education would be for them.


“I have learnt so much in the last two years. Things about myself and who I am as a person, as well as knowledge and skills to take to my practice.”

Trainee Nursing Associate, April 2022 cohort

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Employer and learner support

Learners have a personal tutor throughout their apprenticeship, as well as a learner coach who conducts reviews and supports them towards successful completion. They are also supported by module tutors and our Helpzone staff, who are contactable by telephone, in person and online.

Employers are able to access our dedicated apprenticeship support team, who are here to ensure that businesses get the best from both the learner and the programme.

Learner benefits

All apprentices have access to:
· experienced professionals, who are experts in their field
· state-of-the-art facilities
· all university libraries and IT and facilities
· discounted travel with Stagecoach across the South West network
· an NUS card offering great discounts at restaurants and high street stores
· a vibrant social scene complete with bars, sports clubs, gyms and leisure facilities

View our apprenticeships FAQ guide and discover answers to the most commonly asked questions about higher and degree apprenticeships.

Entry requirements

Identifying candidates who will succeed on the apprenticeship is a joint activity between the employer and the University. While the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that applicants meet entry requirements rests with the University, applicants for this programme are normally nominated by their employer.

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