PwC scraps UCAS points as entry criteria for graduate jobs

Published at 00:01 AM on 04 May 2015

PwC, one of the UK's largest graduate employers, is to scrap the UCAS tariff as an entry criteria for its graduate scheme. It’s a move that could drive radical changes in the social mobility and diversity of the professional services' industry, and how companies assess potential more broadly.

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.

The firm's graduate programme, voted the top scheme in the country for 12 years in row, will continue to filter applications by university degree results and through online behavioural and aptitude assessments that test students more closely on their capacity to learn, personal skills and overall suitability for the workplace. This approach will maintain the high level of talent that PwC demands from its graduate recruits.

Applications to PwC’s graduate schemes rose to 25,573 last year, 17 applications for every role, this is expected to rise considerably this year, as more candidates are eligible to apply.

Gaenor Bagley, board member and head of people at PwC, said:

“As a progressive employer we recognise that talent and potential presents itself in different ways and at different stages in people’s lives. Removing the UCAS criteria will create a fairer and more modern system in which students are selected on their own merit, irrespective of their background or where they are from.

 “By breaking down social barriers we will open the door to thousands of students who may have previously thought a graduate role with PwC was out of reach for them.”


Richard Irwin, PwC’s head of student recruitment, said:

“We want to target bright, talented people and extend our career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society. Our experience shows that whilst A Level assessment can indicate potential, for far too many students there are other factors that influence results.  Competition and assessment for our graduate roles will be as tough as ever - but those that want to get on with a career in business can do so.”


Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said:

“Using a candidate’s UCAS points to assess their potential is a blunt tool and a barrier to social mobility. This is an innovate step by one of the most significant graduate recruiters in the UK. Other graduate employers should follow their lead.”

Across all student programmes the firm will recruit around 2,500 students to graduate, school and college leaver and work experience roles. The firm has pioneered new approaches to recruitment and assessment including sponsored degree programmes and offering the first Higher Apprenticeship in professional services.

The UCAS tariff will continue to be used in filtering applications for the firm’s school leaver roles, employer led degree programme, ‘Flying Start’, and for a small minority of graduate roles where particular subject matter expertise is a requirement.



Notes to editor:


The UCAS points tariff will be scrapped for over 90% of PwC’s graduate and Early Identification Roles.


The firm will continue to use psychometric assessments when recruiting graduates and school leavers. Psychometric tests allow employers to objectively measure abilities, such as numerical, verbal and logical reasoning, and work style preferences that are critical to performance in the role. You can sample these assessments here:


Last year PwC recruited from 82 UK Universities.


PwC was voted the The Times Top 100 Graduate Employer of the Year for an unprecedented twelfth consecutive year. The ranking is based on a survey of 18,000 undergraduates who were asked which employer they thought offered the best opportunities for graduates. They weren’t shown a list of employers to choose from and their answers weren’t prompted in any way.



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About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at

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