In-service degrees/training opps; hello!

Finally got round to registering after being a lurker for far too long, so first of all, hello! :hello2:

I'm looking for some information regarding in-service degrees, if they still exist, as I can find no mention of them anywhere, apart from the title of a broken webpage on the RN site. Can somebody fill me in?

Since I don't know how they work, per se, I don't know if they would be relevant to my current situation, so what follows is a TLDR summary:
I'm currently a mech eng. tech apprentice with a year left to go; I joined this company after dropping out of uni two years into a social sciences degree. Long story short, I realized that I had no future in the arts and Engineering was my 'calling'.

Sadly, I didn't have any formal qualifications in science-based subjects, and at 21 I'm getting on a bit, career-wise, leaving me sadly unable to go back to uni to study Engineering.

My plan was always to try and complete an OU degree while working for the company I'm with at the moment; I've really been enjoying the hands-on aspect to my job and think this will be really useful later on in my career as an engineer.
Having said that...My stoker cousin has been regaling me with tales (dits?) of ship life, runs ashore and misadventures of all varieties lately, which seems to have thrown a spanner in the works as I've taken the bait and am seriously tempted to consider applying!

Here's the rub, though: would there be any opportunity for me to apply to the Navy as a rating, and later study for a degree, assuming my work is up to scratch? If not, is there some sort of sponsored entry, or fast track option available? I'd be primarily interested in ME or AE, and whatever opportunities there are would need to take into account NVQs, as although I have 470 UCAS points, I don't have any qualifications in science or engineering-based subjects that I haven't earned whilst on this apprenticeship (besides GCSEs, obviously). The RN site does mention a fast-track option for engineering trades, as well as formal qualification opportunities, but doesn't go into much (any?) detail.

Applying as a rating is tempting as is, but it would be a shame to waste the qualifications I have on the off chance that there's an option for them to be used to further my education/career.

Hope that made sense to somebody. :)
Time to go wander about the forums a bit methinks..!
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Are you asking about in-service degrees conducted as a rating or officer?

If the former, then it used to be possible for Artificers to conduct the 3rd year of a BEng at Portsmouth Uni, building on their 3 year academic training conducted on entry to the RN. Artificers were replaced with Technicians about 4 years ago, and their academic training significantly diluted. I presume there must be some kind of academics in place to allow Upper Yardmen Engineers to be extracted, but I couldn't tell you exactly how it works these days. There were only a half-dozen extracted through this route at a time, so I wouldn't rely on it to be your only hope of becoming an Officer and/or gaining a degree.

There are no longer any in-service first degrees available for Officers, now that the University Cadetship Scheme has been cut. There are opportunities for post-graduate degrees once in service, including a whole host of Engineering related MSc.

As ever, I would suggest that if you want to join as an Officer, do so from the off; is there no way you can convert your apprenticeship into a BEng via a local uni or the OU? If you want to join as a Rating, your academic qualifications are largely, well, academic: if you can pass the recruiting test we'll train you in precisely what we need you to do. There is some academic content, but it's not degree level, and there is certainly no development of new techniques/equipment (at least for the first 10 - 15 years). Joining on the off-chance you'll be one of those extracted for further academic training is probably a waste of your time and ours; 18 months civvy-side will save you 10 - 12 years once in the RN, and frankly joining at 21 is a spring chicken these days, N_S may have more detailed stats, but the last graph I saw had our average age on entry at something like 23.4 years......
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