What would you say if we told you that it’s possible to go to university, to get a degree, while having your tuition fees paid for and receiving a cracking salary.
It’s too good to be true, you say, as you throw your half-eaten sausage roll across the table and make for the door.
It’s like Coke Zero. Zero sugar? We know the truth, something else is in there, something terrible. And L’Oréal ‘no tears’ shampoo – shampoo always gets in your eyes, there are always tears.
But wait! Could it be true?
Companies across the UK are funding students to go to university, offering them work experience and a wage!
The kids on the street are calling them sponsored degree programmes.
What is a sponsored degree programme?
A sponsored degree scheme is a type of school leaver programme, designed for school leavers who want to move into higher education on a part-time basis. If you no longer care for full-time education, a sponsored degree might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Video: What is a sponsored degree programme?
How do sponsored degree programmes work?
Sponsored degree programmes work in different ways, dependent on the company you are working for.
For example, your average week might be split up between two days studying at university, and the rest spent working at the company's offices.
However, in some cases you may be asked to participate in distance learning. Rather than attending university classes in person, you’ll be able to do it remotely from home or your employer's office.
Then again, some employers sponsored degrees require that you actually attend university on a full-time basis, in which case you may spend holidays (e.g. the summer holidays) working for the company, or undertake paid work placements.
As you can see, sponsored degrees vary from business to business. It’s a good idea to check out the information on the websites of each of the companies than run sponsored degree programmes.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of a week in the life of a sponsored degree student, you should probably talk to Ron.
Meet Ron. Since he applied for a sponsored degree programme, Ron’s been living the dream.
Ron joined the Nestlé Academy Fast School Leavers programme, and is studying towards a BA (Hons) Professional Business Practice.
In the first year of his course, Ron enjoyed work placements in the Sales, Marketing and HR divisions of Nestlé. He is considering writing an album about his experiences. Ron plays the ukulele.
In between his placements, Ron has blocks of study at Sheffield Hallam University. He is studying the business management side of the company.
Soon, Ron will graduate with a degree and 3 years of valuable work experience. Nestlé have funded it all.
With the money Ron has earned from his sponsored degree, he’s bought himself a new ukulele, and is planning a tour of the Midlands.
Should I do a sponsored degree?
Of course you should! A sponsored degree is an opportunity to go to university, without having to pay tuition fees. Students graduate with an average of £44,000 of debt!
Not only are your fees covered by a company, they will pay you a competitive salary! The starting salary at KPMG is £20,000. That’s more than the salary of some graduate jobs.
What’s more, students who do sponsored degrees graduate with at least three years of work experience in a specific industry. Work experience is not only a great addition to your CV, it provides an insight into what working in a specific industry is like.
We repeat, do a sponsored degree.
Check out the sponsored degrees vacancies we have on our jobs board!
“Our fees were paid for and we received a wage! I think people should definitely look at the alternatives: university is not the be-all-and-end-all” Antonio, CGI Sponsored Degree Scheme
Which industries are involved?
Sponsored degree courses are offered by companies in wide-range of industries. Degree programmes like this have been designed for school leavers on diverse career paths. Below is a list of the industries that feature in sponsored degree programmes:
- Business & management
- Project management
- Digital and technology
For more insights and opportunities to find work experience in these sectors, have a stroll over to our Industry Guides. There’s some really edgy content over there.
Which companies offer sponsored degree programmes in the UK?
Here is a list of the companies that offer employer sponsored degrees. Some of the companies that feature are industry leaders in the UK.
Getting work experience with a company that will pay for your degree is the greatest opportunity since Charlie Bucket found a golden ticket in a Wonka Bar. Charlie went on to do great things.
CGI Sponsored Degree Programme
There are two sponsored degree programmes that have been organised by CGI, in partnership with the University of Winchester.
There is a technical programme that leans towards a future career in IT, and another that is relevant to business and project management.
CGI require applicants to have 120 UCAS points (for qualifications achieved after 2017) or 300 UCAS points (for qualifications achieved before 2017). You can also qualify if you have completed a relevant advanced apprenticeship. You can click here to read our overview of apprenticeships.
Mace Sponsored Degree Programme
Mace offer sponsored degrees in Construction Management, Civil Engineering, Facilities Management, Quantity Surveying, Project Management and Project Controls.
Entry requirements for this role are 120 UCAS points (for qualifications achieved after 2017) or 300 UCAS points (for qualifications achieved before 2017). You can also qualify if you have completed a relevant advanced apprenticeship.
Where can I find a sponsored degree programme?
You haven’t got to look far. It’s not like trying to find Neverland, or Where’s Wally?
No, you haven’t got to look far at all. In fact, we have open vacancies for sponsored degree programmes on RateMyApprenticeship. You are but a click away.
It’s not like the good old days of trying to find work. You might chance upon a vacancy in a newspaper, before you realise the newspaper is a week old, and the position has already been filled. Or, your mother would send you into town, dressed in your Sunday best with a CV and ham sandwich wrapped in brown paper, to knock on doors until somebody gave you a job.
We’ve made it a little easier for you. Follow the link below to jump over to our vacancy page for sponsored degree programmes.
It’s also a good idea to regularly check the websites of the employers and higher education institutions that offer sponsored degrees.
Application deadlines are often changed or updated, and it’s in your interest to stay in the loop. Employer and university websites also have useful contact information, if you wanted to ask specific questions about a programme.
Sponsored degree programmes last at least three years. It’s quite a commitment. It’s like getting a rabbit. You might need to babysit a rabbit for a weekend to see if you get along. Just like a shrewd person might try and find some work experience in a certain industry, before signing up for a five-year sponsored degree in it.
Luckily for you, we also have work experience vacancies on RateMyApprenticeship! You can add filters to your search to target specific industries.
Sponsored degree programme entry requirements
The entry requirements for sponsored degree programmes differ between employers. The easiest way to find out if you have the grades to qualify for a course is to check the information on the employers’ jobs pages.
Companies accept diverse qualifications for entry onto their courses. Most employers demand A-levels at Grade B or above and around 120 UCAS points, but also recognise equivalent qualifications. These equivalent qualifications can be BTECs or advanced/higher apprenticeships.
So don’t go ruling yourself out from a sponsored degree programme because you lack A-levels. The entry requirements for sponsored degrees are much more flexible than for conventional university courses.
How do I find the best sponsored degrees?
So you are already convinced... sponsored degree programmes are a cracking option for any school leavers interested in higher education.
It’s like an employer agreeing to fund your flights to Florida, and paying you an hourly rate for the time you spend in Universal Studios. Or LEGOLAND.
But how do you find the best sponsored degrees? How do you go about choosing the type of course that best suits your learning style and career aspirations?
RateMyApprenticeship to the rescue again. We are like Batman, Superman an all their hero friends.
On our reviews page, we have hundreds of reviews of sponsored degree programmes, written by the students themselves. There are reviews of the programmes offered by Capgemini, CGI, Laing O’Rourke and other companies in diverse industries.
The reviews give an overview of each company sponsored degree, including information about salary and support networks, the students’ opinions on how programmes were structured, and provide valuable tips and advice for others who are applying for the same course.
Each review provides a great insight into the workings of sponsored degree programmes. The reviews are unedited, and provide an honest picture of each course.
Read a few, read five, or if you’re an absolute lunatic, read them all.
Sponsored accountancy degrees
A sponsored degree is a fantastic route into the accounting industry. Two of the UK’s biggest accounting firms, KPMG and PwC, both offer sponsored degree programmes that have a permanent job waiting at the end.
Most students who study accounting at university gain all the qualifications they need to become a fully-qualified chartered accountant, but graduate without any work experience or job prospects.
If you do a sponsored accountancy degree, you get the benefits of a tuition-free degree, alongside work experience and the promise of a permanent role within the company. It’s such good value, like a meal deal.
If you want a bit more information about the industry, check out our accounting overview. You’ll meet a chap called Ken the Accountant, and he is great fun.
Sponsored degrees in business
You might have noticed from our overview of UK companies that offer sponsored degree programmes, most of the courses are business related.
There are degree programmes in manufacturing business support, business and project management, business administration and professional business practice. That’s a hell of a lot of business.
The focus on business-related content isn’t a surprise. More and more employers are realising the benefits of investing in school leavers through sponsored degree programmes.
Employers can design courses to give students the specific skills they need to perform a role in the company. It is an investment in their future workforce.
A sponsored degree in business is a great career starter. Not only will you avoid student debt, you will receive a competitive salary and valuable work experience.
Even if you aren’t offered a permanent role after your degree programme, (which is unlikely), you will be highly employable.
Below is a case study from Hannah, who is halfway through a sponsored degree programme with CGI. Hannah gives an outline of her typical working day.
"I get up at 6 or 7 depending on my location for the day. I travel by train to my office which can be a journey between 10 minutes to an hour, depending on where I am traveling to. I will then check my emails to see if there have been any bid enquiries or any replies to enquiries that I have made.
I have on average 2 meetings a day, in which I receive feedback on my progress and get set new actions that need to be completed that day. I work during the day and from 5 o’clock I will spend time completing any university assignments that require research."Hannah, CGI Sponsored Degree Scheme
Sponsored degree programmes in the UK
There are sponsored degree programmes available across the UK. Whether you are in Aberdeen, Aberystwyth or in a caravan in the middle of nowhere, there will be a course on offer near you.
If you wander over to our jobs page, you can filter your search to find sponsored degree programmes in different regions of the UK. Follow the link below and get going.
If you need further inspiration, check out our video on sponsored degrees on RMA TV! There is a cat involved.
RMA TV! - Sponsored degree programmes
We’re at the end now. The outro.
Before you go, be cool and have a look at our vacancy pages for sponsored degree programmes. They truly are a fantastic opportunity for school leavers.
You can hear more about sponsored degree vacancies, and have new job opportunities sent straight to your inbox by signing up to RateMyApprenticeship. It’s free!