PwC is lowering the qualifications bar for new graduates joining its firm in an effort to boost diversity.
The Big Four accountancy firm, one of the UK's largest graduate employers, will start recruiting university leavers who graduate with a grade below the 2:1 classification.
PwC said relaxing the entry requirement would help to “diversify its graduate intake through broader access to talented young people, who may not have the top academic achievements, but have the attributes and all round proven capabilities for a career with the firm”.
Ian Elliott, chief people officer at PwC, said the change could help PwC attract more new starters from “lower income households”.
He said: “Whilst academic achievement has its place, for far too many students there are other factors that influence results.
“Talent and potential is determined by more than academic grades, and so removing the 2:1 entry requirement will open our roles to a greater pool of talent.”
PwC estimates that the changes will mean up to 70,000 students per year can apply for jobs at the firm. At present, around 17pc of graduates do not achieve a 2:1 or 1st class degree.
PwC is not the first Big Four accountant to abandon minimum degree requirements. EY scrapped the need for 2:1s in 2010 in favour of an “open access policy” that does not screen out applications based on academic performance alone. However, in practice, the firm tends to hire graduates who took top marks at university.
Both KPMG and Deloitte demand a minimum of a 2:1 from new recruits in order to be eligible for their graduate programmes.
The decision by PwC to relax hiring requirements comes amid a tight squeeze in the jobs market, with 1.3m open positions according to the Office for National Statistics.
Earlier this year, PwC told its accountants they could take Friday afternoons off all summer, as professional services firms waged a war for talent amid widespread staff shortages.
PwC received 95,000 applications to its graduate programmes for its 2021-22 intake.
Deloitte, KPMG and EY were contacted for comment.