An innovative new scheme to help graduates into the world of work is being launched at the University of Worcester, thanks to more than £600,000 of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Graduates will have the opportunity to combine a paid work placement with a taught Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Management, leading to an Executive MBA, with university fees being covered by a bursary.

The scheme, run in partnership with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce and The Leadership Trust, is aimed at graduates of all disciplines and people with business experience, who want to specialise in business development, innovation and leadership.

The University is especially keen to attract people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, low participation neighbourhoods and with disabilities. Students will benefit from professional mentoring and coaching and have the opportunity to develop their own business ideas, with the HEFCE funding enabling the best of these to be supported to market.

Alongside their studies, participants will either take a paid work placement, already be in paid work, or be funded to develop their own business start-up. Some maintenance bursaries are also available to help with living costs.

Professor Geoffrey Elliott, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the University of Worcester, says: “This is a new and exciting opportunity to gain a prestigious business qualification whilst doing paid work, and without incurring any tuition fees.

“The University of Worcester has a national reputation for its innovative ‘Earn as you Learn’ opportunities, and this course will undoubtedly help to support economic growth in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and the surrounding area through the graduate talent and start-up businesses it creates.”

The project is one of twenty to benefit from HEFCE’s Postgraduate Support Scheme, a £25 million programme to test models for supporting progression into taught postgraduate courses in England.

The scheme aims to ensure the continued success of taught postgraduate education by working with universities and employers to enable participation from students who may not otherwise progress to this level.

All projects were recommended by a panel chaired by Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, and including members of HEFCE’s Strategic Advisory Committees, as well as representatives from the UK Council for Graduate Education and the National Union of Students.

Full details of the scheme are available on the HEFCE website: