Traditionally, students may have boasted about earning degrees from Oxford or Cambridge.
In years to come, though, a degree from the world-famous department store Harrods may feature on students' shopping lists after the world-famous store in London's Knightsbridge became the first retail group in the UK to offer staff its own complete BA Honours.
From this month, 10 employees will be selected to go on the two-year degree course in sales, studying on the top floor of the building.
The degree is a prototype which is expected to be copied by many other businesses with ministerial blessing. Earlier this year, the then Business Secretary Lord Mandelson urged all universities to consider offering two-year courses to save money – and reduce debts for students.
The theme of cut-price degrees has been continued by the present Government's Universities Secretary, David Willetts. Earlier this month he called for students to be able to study online or through their local further education college, while still being enrolled on degree courses run by the country's most successful universities.
The Harrods students, while studying at the store, will be members of Anglia Ruskin University. They will complete what would normally be a three-year BA (Hons) degree in two years, by studying through the summer holidays as well as university term-time. On the agenda will be theoretical modules in human behaviour, psychology and business enterprise, devised to deepen the students' sales skills and effectiveness.
Arkin Salih, Harrods' Learning and Development Manager, said: "This will be the qualification for retail employees wishing to bolster their sales professionalism whilst investing for their long-term career planning."
The group of 10 will include sales staff who may never have contemplated higher education. They will be able to study for their courses while continuing with their day-time sales roles.
Professor Michael Thorne, vice-chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, added: "Harrods is the world's most famous department store with a reputation for retail training that is second-to-none." He said the university was "incredibly proud to be helping further empower its personnel through the delivery of this new higher level skills training".
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