Graduates will no longer need spotless A-level grades to land a job at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The firm, one of the biggest graduate employers in the country, argued that by using Ucas points (a measure of a secondary school student's qualifications) to screen applicants, it was missing out on recruits from more disadvantaged backgrounds.
Until now applicants to most graduate jobs or internships at PwC were required to have a minimum Ucas score of at least 300 points – a requirement still in place for most positions at rivals KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young. An A* grade receives 140 points while an E picks up the minimum 40 points.
PwC has been rated the top graduate employer for 12 successive years by the Sunday Times, and receives at least 17 applications for every job it advertises.
The firm's head of people Gaenor Bayler said that as a "progressive employer" it wanted to recognise that "talent and potential presents itself in different ways". Richard Irwin, the firm's head of student recruitment, explained that the firm could reach wider sections of society by dropping the Ucas requirements.
In an official blog the firm said:
The strong correlation that exists in the UK between social class and school academic performance suggests that by placing too much emphasis on UCAS scores, employers will miss out on key talent from disadvantaged backgrounds, who can perform less well at school.Removing UCAS scores as an entry prerequisite follows analysis of applications to the firm from students who have not achieved the normally required A Level grades. The move will enable the firm to further diversify its graduate intake through broader access to talented young people, who may not have strong historical academic performance at school, but have gone on to perform well at university and have all round proven capabilities.
Last year the "big four" accountancy firms all announced increases in the amount of graduates they were looking to hire PwC boosting their number by around 30 per cent to 1,450.
According to recent research from CareerBuilder, finance and accounting is the third-best graduate employer with 29 per cent fo companies on the hunt for new recruits.