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Grad Schemes and the UCAS Points Barrier

The eligibility criterion of Graduate Schemes is a much Googled subject by students. University degree classifications/grades AND UCAS points are often key criteria that some companies use to filter their applications for Grad Schemes. Your ‘PWC’s, ‘Ernst and Young’s and ‘JLR’s, amongst many others, are so desirable and competitive, that they need quick ways to eliminate candidates so that they are left with, what they consider the best. Unfortunately, this means that JLR for example, may not even consider those with less than say 320 UCAS points as well as a 2:1 minimum, or even more. Sometimes, they may make exceptions if you fall short on UCAS points and have something else they really want but it is a rare occasion.

Therefore, some students who worked or are working tremendously hard at university to achieve 2:1’s or greater, may still find themselves restricted when applying for Grad Schemes because the UCAS points they amounted before University may not meet the Grad Scheme UCAS requirements. This can be hard to swallow. What can you do in this predicament?



First of all, it’s worth noting that some Grad Schemes require fewer or put less emphasis on UCAS points then some of the big blue chip companies. Do your research and find out further information from some of the companies that make themselves present at Coventry University.

International students often come up against a similar problem. The grades they achieved in their native country may not be considered equivalent to the UK grading scheme and so they simply cannot apply. In this case, you should check out NARIC who, for a fee, can convert your qualifications so that they are recognised by employers. However, after conversion, some students can find themselves in the same position, lusting after graduate schemes with global names that simply won’t consider their application if the grades they achieved prior to university don’t match their requirements.

Many students are drawn towards the huge industry names and their graduate schemes. It’s said over and over; some students can benefit from paying more attention to the SMEs! (Small and Medium Enterprises). As enticing as the promise of an Audi from day one is, it may be a lot more appropriate for some students to look at some of the smaller, less renowned companies.

We are by no means trying to put you off graduate schemes; most of them come with some enviable fringe benefits and salary increases for your loyalty that even Donald Trump wouldn’t mind. But even after you’ve proven your worth at an educational level with masses of UCAS points and a 2:1 or 1st on your CV, you’ll still have to attend multiple interviews to be whittled down again and again. It can be a lengthy and formal application process (for each scheme!) and this isn’t for everyone.

At SMEs, the application process is likely to be a shorter, less strenuous and you will be competing against a lot less rival candidates. Furthermore, SMEs are more likely to base their decisions on whether you fit their visions for the future and not just your qualifications. Also, although the starting salary is likely to be lower than that of a graduate scheme, it could increase rapidly and the role in SMEs can be very engaging too! It’s not just about money and benefits remember!

If you’re lucky enough beat  the competition to secure a position on a graduate scheme, then congrats! However, they are not the only option and there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere, especially if your UCAS points restrict you from even applying to certain companies.

Read more about the SME route here from one of our Careers Consultants.




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