Tony Blair‘s son Euan’s education start-up is taking on universities by offering debt-free degrees for apprentices while they work at firms such as Rolls-Royce and Mastercard.
Multiverse, the company set up by the former prime minister’s son in 2016, has been granted powers to issue degrees in a range of subjects including technology and data science.
An initial cohort of 170 students will be enrolled onto Multiverse degrees later this month, with applications for all 16 to 24-year-olds opening later this year.
Euan Blair (pictured) launched education tech start-up Multiverse in 2016 and it has since worked with more than 8,000 apprentices and is valued just under £1.4bn
Euan pictured with his father, former Labour Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair, on the steps of No 10 Downing Street for the final time in 2007
Elisabeth Barrett, vice-president of learning at Multiverse, said: ‘Young people have been faced with an artificial trade-off between getting a degree or starting a career and immediately learning real-world skills.
‘Now they can do both. We have a vision for Applied Degrees that allow people to obtain a quality education – but where a salary replaces debt.
‘A high quality job from the start replaces the risk of being unprepared for the modern workplace by the time they graduate. And applied learning and personalised coaching replaces theoretical lectures and outdated exams.
‘Our degrees will offer training in the areas fuelling today’s economy: like data and tech. Already, our tech and computing programmes have higher employability than computer science degrees. Multiverse’s degree awarding powers enable us to take this even further.’
Students will spend around a fifth of their degree with Multiverse coaches and experts in their given subject area and will be given graded assignments to complete during the three-year course.
Alongside this they will work as an apprentice at one of hundreds of businesses, such as Rolls-Royce and Mastercard, earning a starting salary of at least £18,000 per annum.
Mr Blair’s company has become the first apprenticeship provider to be granted degree-awarding powers by the regulator, the Office for Students.
Euan’s start-up Multiverse has become the first apprenticeship provider to be granted degree-awarding powers by the Office for Students, the university regulator
Jean Arnold, director of quality at the Office for Students said: ‘We support innovation in the sector to enhance the options and quality of courses for students.
‘We’re pleased to grant degree awarding powers to Multiverse as a provider that delivers opportunities and choice to students.
Mr Blair’s company has now helped more than 8,000 apprentices and is worth nearly £1.4billion.
Speaking previously about his vision to offer an alternative to universities, Mr Blair said: ‘There has never been a more pressing time to create an alternative to university education that is equitable and inclusive and there is an incredible opportunity before us to change the status quo with apprenticeships.’
Training will be free for apprentices, who will not take on any debt as the bill is footed by the employer.
The cost of tuition is covered through the apprenticeship levy, which was first introduced in April 2017 to help the Government fund their plan to deliver more apprenticeship schemes.
Employers are required to pay the levy at 0.5 per cent of their annual pay bill, if this is over £3million.
Meanwhile, smaller employers whose annual pay bill totals less than £3million pay just 5 per cent of the cost of their apprenticeship training while the Government pays the rest.
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair vowed to get half of school leavers into university in 1997 with a promise to focus on ‘education, education, education’
Tony Blair posing with his family, wife Cherie, and children (left to right) Nicky, Kathryn and Euan, before taking up residence at 10 Downing Street in 1997
Euan Blair, pictured with his father, former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, in 1999 during a trip to Italy
Mr Blair’s father, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, vowed to get half of school leavers into university after being swept to power in 1997 on a promise that New Labour’s priorities would be ‘education, education, education’.
Under Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced university tuition fees of £1,000-a-year in 1998.
The move was met with fierce opposition by opposition parties and the National Union of Students, who pledged to fight ‘tooth and nail against them’.
In 2003, Labour announced plans to hike tuition fees to £3,000-a-year despite earlier promises they would not raise them.
This meant that graduates would have to start repaying fees once they were earning a salary of £15,000 per annum.
The price hike was defended by Tony Blair who said that ‘graduates should contribute more to their university education’.
Tuition fees at universities in England now stand at £9,250 per year after further hikes by successive governments.