KPMG to sponsor Durham degree
by Jess Gordon
Accountancy firm KPMG have announced their intention to sponsor the degrees of their trainees who study at Durham University from autumn 2011.
Seventy-five students will have their fees paid to study for a BSc in Accounting and will also eventually obtain a chartered accountancy qualification.
KPMG specifies that successful applicants must get ABB in their A-levels and pass a series of interviews and tests. Students will be required to divide their time between studying at Durham and working, under the supervision of a mentor, at the firm.
Following completion of the four year course, the graduates will undertake a further two years training in London, Manchester or Birmingham, for which they will receive a salary of £20,000.
The incentive is part of a wider national plan to “raise the glass ceiling”. Talking about the scheme, KPMG’s Oliver Tant said that “social immobility” can put the UK at a disadvantage against global competitors.
The plan responds to a report into social mobility conducted in 2009, which revealed that people entering professions such as medicine, law and journalism are increasingly likely to be from more affluent families.
Conducted by former minister Alan Milburn, the study highlighted a need for more equal opportunities in education and employment.
“We’re an ideas business” says Tant, KPMG’s head of audit. “We need diverse talent. We need to find the most gifted. We’re fighting on a global stage and China and Japan don’t have the same social immobility”.
Tant acknowledges that the level of student debt is going to become an “intimidating prospect”. The sponsorship offer is intended to ensure that the company’s graduate intake will be consistently representative of a wide social spectrum.
The company claim that the scheme will be a “blueprint” for private sector support for students when fees in England rise in 2012 to up to £9,000.
Responding positively to the strategy, Universities minister David Willets advised other universities and businesses to “study the scheme carefully”.
KPMG is not, however, the first company to fund future employees.
Several other firms have already implemented similar programs. Supermarket chain Morrisons sponsors 20 undergraduates on a three year BSc in Business and Management at Bradford University. Launched in January, the corporation covers students’ tuition fees on the premise that they will work for the company for at least three years following graduation.
Tesco also sponsor a course in retail with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of the Arts London.
KPMG’s sponsorship plan has been recognised as part of a developing trend of commercialisation in England’s university system. With the fear that students could be graduating with a debt of up to £30,000, the likelihood that corporate degrees will proliferate in the next few years is a reassuring prospect.
Applications for the KPMG sponsored degrees, which will be processed direct – not through UCAS – open at the end of February.