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Do applicants still need degrees for graduate jobs?

By November 2, 2016June 6th, 2018Current Affairs, HR Research
Graduate Jobs | HR Solutions

Graduate job seekers who may not have made the grade at university, could still have a good chance of getting the job of their dreams after four big employers made significant changes to their academic entry requirements.


Ernst Young

Accountancy firm Ernst & Young is the fifth largest graduate recruiter in the UK. Last year they removed the 2:1 degree and the equivalent of three B grades at A-level requirement from their entry criteria. They said that there is not any evidence that success at university results in achievements later in life or subsequent professional qualifications undertaken. They will now be using online assessments to assist them with selecting candidates.


Last year Deloitte also made changes to their entry requirements at both ends of the academic scale. There are now nine services areas that will accommodate a low number of UCAS points if the candidate has a first class degree. Plus those with a 2.2 degree and high enough number of UCAS points can qualify for six of the firm’s service areas.


KPMG has changed its UCAS requirements for graduate entry from 320 to 300 points. However the company will not automatically reject candidates who do not meet this new criteria. They say they will assess the applications on a number of factors such as work experience and how they perform in their tests.


Last year auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers dropped UCAS points as entry requirement for its graduate scheme. The company says that putting too much weight on academic achievements will mean they could be missing out on talented candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have performed as well academically.

What this means for job seekers

So for those graduates who perhaps haven’t achieved a high degree result, or have a low UCAS points, this is of course good news. But they still need to ensure that during the application process they are able to demonstrate that they have what it takes despite not achieving top academic results.

What this means for the employers

Companies face stiff competition when it comes to identifying and hiring the best talent. For a long time employers have used academic achievement as a barometer when selecting their graduates, but many have come to realise that academic achievements don’t always equate to the skills that employers are looking for.

Employers could also be missing out on talented people that may not have had the opportunity to pursue a university degree. So broadening the criteria will inevitably attract a more diverse applicant base.

A great degree won’t necessarily show how an individual will behave in a certain situation. So instead of focusing purely at degrees and UCAS points, developing strengths based assessments is a key way of not just looking at past performance but identifying the potential in a candidate and what they could bring to the business.

Further support

At HR Solutions we know how important it is to recruit the right people in the right places and how much time that process can take.  Our Fixed Fee Recruitment service will manage your hiring process from start to finish and ensure that you only have to deal with the most serious applicants. For more information visit:

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