Getting paid to get a degree: it's possible

A former Dundee pupil tells us why he chose a degree apprenticeship and how he landed one of the most competitive placements in the country

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A new generation of students are getting the chance to earn a degree and a wage at the same time.

Logan Thomson is one of around 1,000 students completing a degree apprenticeship.

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The former High School of Dundee pupil secured a coveted place with Dyson against intense competition from applicants across the UK.

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Under the new Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology initiative, he will work at the company’s headquarters and go to university two days a week, earning a degree over the course of four years.

“I get experience being an engineer and working with real engineers rather than just learning about being an engineer,” he said.

“It is the hands-on experience that appeals to me and the fact that I have the chance to try out different types of engineering rather than taking a guess and thinking ‘I might like mechanical engineering’.

“It also made financial sense as I get paid so it was a win-win-win.”

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Degree apprenticeships launched in September, 2015.

Although similar to higher apprenticeships, they allow students to gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree while being paid.

With only around 1,000 places currently available, competition is intense.

Despite only being 17 – probably Dyson’s youngest employee – Logan had to go through four intense application stages against hundreds of other applicants to secure one of just 33 places.

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Following an initial online application with his CV and two short essays, he had to complete timed mathematical problems, a telephone interview and finally a full day assessment which included a team project and two interviews.

“One of the interviews was about you and how you would fit in with Dyson culture,” said Logan.

“It is such a unique business because it is so big but still has a slight start-up feel to it because it is so innovative.”

Logan was a pupil at the High School of Dundee from the age of four, having started in primary one.

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He feels the school helped him to feel confident putting his point of view across through enrichment activities as well as giving practical advice on CV and interview preparation.

“Logan beat off huge competition from all over the UK to secure his apprenticeship with Dyson,” said Dr John Halliday, Rector of the High School of Dundee.

“Deciding to study a degree apprenticeship means he will get his bachelor’s while also working for one of the world’s leading manufacturers.

“We are sure he will excel with them and wish him the best of luck for the future.”

Degree apprenticeships are designed in partnership with employers, with part-time study taking place at a university or college.

They can take from three to six years to complete.

At the moment, the scheme only operates at universities in England and Wales, meaning Logan has had to relocate to Dyson’s headquarters in Malmesbury, the Cotswolds.

His degree will be awarded by the University of Warwick.

Having only started on Friday, September 1, it is still early days but Logan is already enjoying his apprenticeship.

“It has been great just finding our way around Dyson and meeting our team leaders and finding out more about the company,” he said.

“It is a really impressive place to work. They have jet planes hanging from the ceilings of the café and other engineering icons just dotted around the campus.”

The High School of Dundee is one of Scotland’s leading independent schools and is among the oldest in the United Kingdom.

Catering for children aged from three to 18 years old, it helps all of its pupils achieve their potential and go on to future success.

The annual primary and secondary school open morning takes place on Saturday, September 30.

You can register online at: www.highschoolofdundee.org.uk/parents/open_morning, by calling 01382 202921 or just pop along on the day.