Browse through the FAQs to find out more about our Graduate Apprenticeship programmes at Edinburgh Napier University.

Apprentice FAQs

Who is eligible for a Graduate Apprenticeship? 

To be eligible, you must be at least 16 years of age, but there is no maximum age limit. You must be living (ordinary resident) and working in Scotland. You must have settled status and have lived in the UK for 3 years before the start of your chosen course.

Do I pay any tuition fees? 

No – as a Graduate Apprentice your learning costs are fully covered. SAAS will pay your fees directly to your university. You must however remember to apply every year via the SAAS website. If you do not apply for SAAS funding at the start of each academic year, you will be liable for tuition fees.

Am I exempt from paying Council Tax as a Graduate Apprentice? 

No – whilst you are a matriculated student, you are studying for less than 21 hours per week in an academic year and working more than 21 hours per week, and therefore not exempt from Council Tax.  You may however be eligible for a discount depending on your living situation.  Please refer to your local authority for more information.

Can I access any additional funding, such as a Student Loan?

No – as a paid employee you are not eligible for a Student Loan or any additional living cost support from SAAS.

Am I an employee or a student?

You are first and foremost an employee, and as such are primarily bound by the terms of your employment contract.  You are however also a fully matriculated student at Edinburgh Napier University with access to the same facilities and benefits as our other students.

How much should I be paid?

As a Graduate Apprentice you must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for an apprentice. Edinburgh Napier encourages all employers to pay at least the Scottish Living Wage, and to offer salary uplifts as you progress through your job and studies. You can find pay rates on the UK Government website and on the ACAS website. The employer should also give you full access to the same facilities or benefits as other staff.

Does my job role need to reflect what I’m studying at university? 

Your job and professional development opportunities should be relevant to your chosen subject area, however you do not need to have job duties that are directly relevant to a module of study at any given time.

Can I get funding if I already have a qualification in the subject I’m applying for? 

You could apply for funding for a Graduate Apprenticeship in a similar subject area if your existing qualification is at a lower level. You may also be eligible for funding if you have a similar level of qualification, but in a different subject area.

What is a workplace mentor, and who should it be?

The workplace mentor is key to the success of your journey through university.  The mentor works in the same organisation as you and supports you on a day-to-day basis, supporting your work-based learning and aligning your academic study with workplace tasks and projects where possible.  The mentor should be in a similar field as you, such as a line manager, team lead or senior member of staff.

What happens if my employment ends before I complete my GA?

If your employer can no longer keep you in employment, you'll have the option to continue your apprenticeship with another employer, where available.  You can also join a related course at the university; however Graduate Apprenticeship funding will no longer apply. For more information email us at

What if I find a new job myself? 

GA funding follows you rather than your employer. You should contact us at the earliest opportunity for a confidential discussion if you are considering changing employer, so that we can advise you on best options. A new employer must provide the time and workplace support for you through the Graduate Apprenticeship.

Am I allowed any additional time off from work to study, such as during exam periods?

Your employer is obligated to allow you to study for 20% of your working time.  Our GA programme delivery model supports this requirement.  There is no requirement for your employer to offer any additional study time.  Whether this is offered is up to your employer and their employment policy, and we encourage open dialogue between you and your employer regarding this matter.

Are there cost implications to me or my employer if I leave my Graduate Apprenticeship employment or studies early? 

No, the university and funding provider will not reclaim any learning costs, provided you are up-to-date with your SAAS funding. You however must refer to our Student Fees and University Debt Policy before deciding to withdraw to ensure you are not liable for fees.

How do I get support in my employment if I have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition?

Access to Work provides practical and financial support for individuals with a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition to help them start, or stay in, work. Funding can cover costs for additional equipment, software or taxis to and from work, for example.

Employer FAQs

Is my apprentice an employee or a student?

Graduate Apprentices are considered students at the university, which includes full access to our university facilities and resources. They are however first, and foremost, an employee and should be provided with a permanent or fixed term contract with a salary and benefits.

How are Graduate apprenticeships funded? 

Graduate Apprenticeships are fully funded through Scottish Funding Council and Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). Once you have offered a Graduate Apprenticeship place, the participant must apply to SAAS for funding, who will pay their tuition fees directly to the university. There are no associated learning costs to the Graduate Apprenticeship employer.  

All Graduate Apprenticeship applicants must meet SAAS eligibility and residence conditions to apply, and applications must be submitted by the apprentice for every year of study.

Can a small or medium-sized business take on a Graduate Apprentice? 

Yes – there is no restriction on the size of organisation and your business will have access to 100% funding irrespective of whether you pay the Apprenticeship Levy 

What is my responsibility as an employer?

You must offer the apprentice 20% of their working time to undertake university study. this is most often 4 days per week at work and 1 day at university, based on a 5 day working week, but can vary for some university courses, or if your employee works part-time or on compressed hours.

You should also provide the apprentice with job duties that are commensurate with their progression in university, and provide them with the tools and opportunities to succeed on their course and progress in their work.

What salary should I offer?

Graduate Apprentices must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for an apprentice and have full access to the same facilities or benefits as other staff. Edinburgh Napier University encourages all employers to pay at least the Scottish Living Wage, and to offer salary uplifts as you progress through your job and studies. You can find pay rates on the UK Government website and on the ACAS website.

Do I have influence over the course material?

Employers have influence over the work-based learning elements of the programme, where they assign learning objectives for Professional Practice modules. These are agreed each year but can be reviewed at regular intervals. We encourage you to combine these learning objectives with your existing workplace professional development plans where possible.

What is a workplace mentor and who should this be?

Mentoring is a supportive relationship where a more experienced employee shares their knowledge and skills with a less experienced colleague. The Graduate Apprentice mentor should support the apprentice, help them understand their role, the importance of their degree, and develop their career. Examples of suitable workplace mentors are line managers, senior team members and recent graduates from a similar university degree or Graduate Apprenticeship.

What day-to-day job duties should my apprentice undertake?

In the early stages, apprentices will gain a broad knowledge of their subject area and its application in the workplace. We recommend that the job role your employee is initially offered allows them to develop broader knowledge and the fundamental skills they need to progress in the workplace, such as communication, problem-solving, time management, working with others and self-motivation. As they progress, you can then offer job duties that allow them to stretch their abilities, increase their skills and improve their contribution in work.

Is there any requirement to give apprentices additional time off, such as during exam periods?

As an employer you are obligated to allow the apprentice to study for 20% of their working week. This time is provided to them through our day release model, so you don’t need to give them any extra time to study. Whether you offer them this is up to you and your employment policy, and we encourage open dialogue between you and your apprentice regarding this matter.

What happens if an apprentice must suspend their studies?

If an apprentice wants to suspend their studies and resume at later date, they can do this for up to 12 months by notifying the university. At the end of suspension, the apprentice must still be in employment and their employer must agree to support them through the remainder of the programme.

What happens if the Graduate Apprentice is unable to meet the academic demands of the course?

If the Graduate Apprentice’s fails assessment elements and subsequent resit opportunities but has successfully completed other elements of the course, they will be awarded a certificate or diploma at the last level they achieved. The same is true if the Graduate Apprentice decides to exit the 4-year programme early.

Will there be any cost implications for an employer if an apprentice leaves their employment before completing their GA?

No. The funding provider and the university will not reclaim any of the individuals learning costs. If you can no longer keep the individual in employment, or if the apprentice resigns, the apprentice will have the option to continue their apprenticeship with another employer, where available. 

Get in touch

Whether you're looking to upskill personally or you're an employer looking to upskill your staff, you can contact our Graduate Apprenticeship team via the enquiry form below, or give us a call on 0131 455 6464.