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KPMG and Durham University announce plans for new degree programme

(13 January 2011)

KPMG, the professional services firm, has announced that it is working with Durham University and ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) to develop a ground-breaking new school leavers' programme for September 2011.

The innovative proposal is for an initial intake of around 75 students at Durham, who will start a six year programme with the firm, leading to both a degree and a professional chartered accountancy qualification from ICAEW.  

KPMG envisages that in due course school leaver schemes of this type may account for the majority (in excess of 400) of its annual trainee chartered accountant intake.

KPMG will pay the full university and professional tuition fees for each student in addition to a starting salary of around £20,000 (in London).  They will receive a salary throughout the six year period.  During the degree phase, which will last for four years, students will spend part of the time in residence at Durham University, where they will study at Durham Business School, and part of the time working at KPMG. 

Agreement in principle has been reached with Durham University, a World Top-100 University, and the full proposal for this new programme is currently being developed for consideration by the University for full approval.  Students will study for a BSc in Accounting. 

Applicants will need to achieve the same minimum A-Level grades as KPMG requires of its graduate intake and meet the high academic standards required for entry to Durham University.

Some of the modules covered in the degree will also count towards their accountancy qualification.  Students could also have the option in the future of choosing to study additional modules outside of accountancy and finance.

On completion of the six year programme, students will become fully qualified chartered accountants with the ICAEW ACA qualification.

One of KPMG's aims in setting up the scheme is to widen participation in the profession through increasing the diversity and range of its intake.

Oliver Tant, UK Head of Audit at KPMG, said: "We are really excited about this scheme which we think is genuinely ground-breaking 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. 

"I greatly look forward to welcoming the students to KPMG in September, and also thank Durham University and the ICAEW for their cooperation and enthusiasm in embracing the concept.  This scheme is a major new departure for us, which we think could establish a new trend of the private sector helping to meet the costs of tertiary education."

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, said: "This will be a highly innovative programme aimed at ensuring some of the most able young people, who might not normally enter Durham University, can gain a rigorous academic degree from one of the world's leading Universities and Business Schools, and at the same time gain a professional qualification from ICAEW and employment with KPMG, one of the world's blue-chip employers.

"Durham University has a long and distinguished history of partnership with leading employers, and is recognised as one of the world's top 25 Universities from which leading employers world-wide wish to recruit graduates.  This innovative programme with KPMG sets a benchmark for the future."

David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science, said: "I warmly welcome this new scheme, as it provides a new entry route to a prestigious 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."

Alan Milburn, independent reviewer on social mobility, said: "I fully support the new and innovative partnership between KPMG, Durham University and the ICAEW.  It will extend fair access, enhance social mobility and promote opportunity for those leaving school to go to university and build a career in accountancy.  I hope that others across the professions and the business world will develop similar exciting programmes."

Prospective students can get more information or register an interest in the programme by visiting www.kpmg.co.uk/slp. For specific queries, email ukfmgraduate@kpmg.co.uk, or phone 0500 664665.

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