BIG FOUR firm KPMG will pay the full university and professional tuition fees for around 75 school leavers starting at Durham University.
As part of a six-year training programme, leading to a chartered accountancy qualification and a job with the Big Four accounting firm, the school leavers will take a four-year BSc degree in accounting.
They 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.
After graduating the trainees will join KPMG on a starting salary of around £20,000.
KPMG said that it was introducing the scheme, developed in partnership with the ICAEW, to help it recruit a more diverse intake of trainees. In future, school-leaver schemes of this type may account for the majority of the annual intake of trainee chartered accountants at KPMG, the firm said.
Oliver Tant, UK head of audit at KPMG, said: "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 welcomed the scheme. "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."
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