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What is a Sponsored Degree Programme?

The sponsored degree programme is just one of your school leaver options. If you’re quite taken with the idea of going to university after you finish school then this could be the option for you... Drum roll, please…

Presenting the sponsored degree programme! A combination of salaried work experience and study for a degree (and sometimes further professional qualifications as well), this particular route could be for you if you want to enter banking or the professional services with a focus on consultancy, technology, accounting or business management.

Some of the biggest employers in finance currently offer sponsored degree programmes (including the Big Four).

What will I do on a sponsored degree programme?

This route lasts three to five years. The structure and time scales of each programme will vary according to the employer. You’ll usually spend the first year at university full time; after that you’ll rotate between time at university and full-time work placements with your employer. Of course, you’ll have to complete your exams for your university course too! It’s quite common for the employer to set out a minimum grade they would like you to attain in your exams to keep you on track.

There will usually be at least one full year that you will spend full-time in the office. During this time, you may well also study for a professional qualification alongside work.

Advantages of a sponsored degree programme…

  • The work experience element of a sponsored degree programme lets you get straight into the cogs of a busy, global finance firm or bank. One way of getting around worries about not having relevant work experience.
  • There will be plenty of networking opportunities on the work side of things.
  • Your employer will pay for your degree!
  • As well as tuition fees, it’s likely you’ll get a bursary too to help support you financially in term time. Hurrah!
  • You still get to enjoy studying with university and all of the social activities that go with it.
  • A school degree programme could lead to a fast-track route on the employer’s graduate programme when you finish.
  • The work experience and support from colleagues will give you an extra boost to complete professional qualifications alongside your degree.

Sounds great! Any disadvantages?

By the looks of that list above, it seems there isn’t much not to like about sponsored degree programmes if you’d like to jump straight into a career in business, banking or finance. But there are a couple of things to consider. Due to the way in which the schemes have been developed (in conjunction with specific universities), there are restrictions on where and what you will be able to study. This path doesn’t allow you to spend the whole course duration at university either, so if that’s the experience you’re looking for then weigh up what factors are most important for you.

Another quick pointer: degree courses available with sponsored degree programmes will be relevant to business and finance. If your study interests lie elsewhere in the realm of arts and humanities or other social sciences then this route might not be the one for you.

Ultimately it’s down to your short- and long-term goals, and sponsored degrees, university, school leaver programmes and apprenticeships are all respected and valid options for you following school. But if you can feel it in your waters that you’re destined for a finance career, sponsored degree programmes are well worth a look!

By Jos Weale, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com