University's first Graduate Apprentices cross the Usher Hall stage

Date posted

27 October 2021


A groundbreaking initiative which allows students to study for a university degree while in paid employment today produced its first graduates at Edinburgh Napier University.

Twenty-nine students graduated from the university’s School of Computing under the Graduate Apprenticeships scheme, with their degrees including BSc (Hons) IT Management for Business, BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Cyber Security.

A graduation ceremony at the city’s Usher Hall saw the university’s first intake complete their degrees four years after the university began offering Graduate Apprenticeships, an initiative developed by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with industry and the higher education sector.

Graduate Apprenticeships drive economic growth by offering employers the chance to train and develop new and existing employees through a fully funded university degree. 

The apprenticeships combine academic knowledge with skills development, and Edinburgh Napier now offers GA courses in its School of Computing, Business School and School of Engineering & the Built Environment.

Among today’s first Edinburgh Napier graduates from the scheme was Craig Potter, 38, a Detective Sergeant with Police Scotland, who graduated with a first class BEng honours degree in Cyber Security.Craig Potter

Craig, of Edinburgh, said: “It has been four years of hard slog in addition to my full-time work as a police officer, but I feel a real sense of achievement in completing my degree.

“It has helped me get promoted and has helped Police Scotland in terms of upskilling staff. A lot of my work-based projects and my dissertation have been around improving the force capability in relation to the investigation of Cryptocurrency, so there are tangible benefits to both employers and employees in going down this route.”

Graduate Apprenticeships are available to businesses of any size in Scotland, with apprentices typically spending 80 per cent of their time in the workplace and 20 per cent at university. They are available for people looking for a new job with a participating employer as well as those looking to upskill through their current job, and tasks and projects apprentices carry out in work can count towards their degree.

Professor Sally Smith, Head of Graduate Apprenticeships at Edinburgh Napier, said: “We’re delighted to see our first ever graduate apprentices crossing the stage this year. Graduation is a time to reflect on personal achievements and celebrate all that hard work paying off. We also acknowledge the support provided by employers, the early adopters who recognised the strengths of the Graduate Apprenticeship model. From that first day four years ago, the apprenticeships have gone from strength to strength, expanding into new subjects.”

Scott Killen, the university’s employment liaison and recruitment manager, said: “In order for a Graduate Apprentice to succeed their employer must be dedicated to supporting them in their university work, professional development and work-based learning.  The employers of the class of 2021 took a big risk in enrolling their staff into a brand new degree programme in September 2017.  They have been instrumental in the graduating cohort’s success.  Their contribution and feedback has also helped us continually improve how we support employers and apprentices to deliver positive learning experience both in university and the workplace.”

Mira Thow, Global HR Manager with KAL, a leader in ATM software, said: “Graduate profiles are an invaluable part of the future of our business. Each year KAL ATM Software Gmbh hires a cohort of at least 12 talented, driven students from the best universities in the world. After four years of intensive training and development in our graduate program, it is truly inspiring to see our first cohort of Graduate Apprentices blossom into fully fledged engineers who we are also confident will become the next generation of business leaders.”