PricewaterhouseCoopers to stop assessing graduates on their A-level results

The accountancy firm is the biggest private sector employer of graduates

James Moore
Monday 04 May 2015 00:19
Pricewaterhouse Coopers is the biggest private sector employer of graduates
Pricewaterhouse Coopers is the biggest private sector employer of graduates

Britain’s so called “gold standard” educational qualification faces a blow after the biggest private sector employer of graduates said yesterday it would no longer use A-level grades to assess applicants for 90 per cent of its roles.

The accountancy firm PwC says it plans to scrap minimum A-Level grades for candidates because they are preventing it hiring top talent from disadvantaged backgrounds. The new policy will take effect from June.

The firm used to require a minimum of between 240 Ucas points (A-level grades BCC) and 340 points (AAB) before it would consider a graduate entrant for a job at the firm, depending on role. In future, however, it will rely on its own assessment process and the candidate’s degree score.

Richard Irwin, the head of student recruitment at PwC, said the decision had been prompted by research showing what he described as a “huge correlation” between performance at school and social class. This, he said, was not reflected in the degrees achieved by people who reached university. “When your parents have been to university, for example, its likely that you will do better at school and achieve better A-level grades. Where you live is also a significant factor,” he said.

“By focusing on people’s A-level grades we are therefore potentially missing out on some very strong candidates. We’ve taken the view that if a candidate is able to show a strong degree, is able to demonstrate all the attributes and skills sets we need and who can succeed in our assessment process, then we should no longer punish them for having poor A-level grades.”

Ucas points will still be used when considering people seeking to join the firm as school leavers, but the cut-off will be relatively low – CCC. However, Mr Irwin said the ultimate aim was to abandon the use of A-levels at this stage too, once the firm was confident it could assess candidates based solely on its own scoring.

A number of industry bodies have been calling for reform of Britain’s educational system, notably the CBI, which wants to see vocational qualifications given equal footing with A-levels and other academic qualifications.

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