School leavers will be given the chance to study accountancy at university without paying tuition fees, in a new scheme offered by professional services firm KPMG.
In September 2011, around 75 students will be given the chance to start a six-year programme with the firm, during which they will gain both a degree and a professional chartered accountancy qualification funded by the company. The scheme aims to increase diversity in the profession by targeting those who might be unable to pursue a graduate path into the career due to the cost of tuition fees.
During the degree phase, which will last four years, students will spend part of the time studying at Durham University and the rest working at KPMG, receiving a starting salary of approximately £20,000.
KPMG hopes that the scheme, developed in conjunction with Durham University and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, will increase the diversity of talented people brought into the profession, who may see the cost of a university degree as a barrier.
Oliver Tant, UK head of audit at KPMG, said: “We are really excited about this scheme, which we think is genuinely groundbreaking and innovative. For us, one of the key things is to ensure fair access to the profession by ensuring the greatest number of young people possible go to university – and also have the potential to train as an accountant.
“We need an accountancy profession that is as diverse and as open as it can be. This scheme will address current concerns around how students can meet the costs of university and make degrees and professional qualifications available to a broader socio-economic group.”
David Willetts, minister for universities and science, has welcomed the scheme, adding that it will provide a new entry route into the profession for people from a wide range of backgrounds: “I hope other employers and universities will study the concept carefully. It’s the kind of initiative that we hope will flourish as we reform higher education.”