In-Company degree celebrates 15 Years of graduates

BABM staff Richard Howarth Melanie Currie Jon Sloper

The UK’s first degree to place students in companies full-time as part of their course is celebrating 15 years of graduates this year as the BA (Hons) Business and Management (in-company) (BABM) course at Nottingham Business School sees its 362nd student leave to go straight into graduate employment.

The first degree of its kind when it was launched in 1998, BABM has a 100% employment rate, with 93% of graduates going into a managerial or professional role within six months. Students spend the first year of the course studying at Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, before completing their three year degree by learning in a workplace, whilst their fees and wages are paid by sponsoring companies.  

Students have been employed by a variety of blue-chip companies, including Barclays, Toyota, Tesco and Boots, while Rolls-Royce has taken students since BABM began.  Recently, students also have also been given the option to set up and run their own business with support from the university’s business incubator, The Hive.

On completion of the course, BABM graduates either progress to graduate schemes or roles within their employing organisation or other organisations.  Due to the distinctive course approach and design, graduates have been able to advance quickly to senior management roles in both the partner companies and others such as BAE Systems, Holland and Barrett, IKEA, Kia, KPMG, Lexus, Lloyds Banking Group, M&S, Morgan Sindall Group, Nationwide, Reckitt Benckiser, Sun Newspapers, Siemens and Silver Spoon.

Danny Johnson graduated from the very first BABM cohort and is now head of Commercial Poultry and Game at AB Agri, a business which employs six other BABM alumni. He said: “BABM has played a big role in my career. I am proof that the in-company system works. I gained a place with Associated British Foods 16 years ago and I am still with the business today. The course gave me a general base of skills and an opportunity to gain practical experience, something that fitted my learning style and helped me to stand apart from other grads at the start of my career.”

Course leader, Dr Richard Howarth, said: “This course focusses on the practice of management and managing and has adapted to fit both the needs of business and our students over the years.  Our approach is distinctive and, although we have historically worked with a range of corporate organisations, is relevant to a range of organisations.  Our intention is for our students to have an impact in the workplace and our outstanding employment rate suggests its testimony to the calibre of our students.”

Dean of Nottingham Business School, Professor Baback Yazdani, said: “This course was the pioneer of in-company degrees, producing some the best and most capable business graduates in Europe, and is a format which is now being backed by government as the future of business education.  Today NBS is again at the forefront of innovation integrating experiential and personalised learning across all of our courses. Our students benefit from degrees designed around their individual subject and experiential needs, offering them personalised insight into their own development and growth needs and tailored to their career aspirations. This is the first in the world at this scale and no doubt others will follow our path.”

The 15th anniversary was celebrated with a staff, student and alumni black tie dinner at Nottingham Trent University. On the same day, this year’s graduating cohort launched their Journal of Strategic Change. Produced as part of their course, the publication was unveiled at a special event which included a talk by Tesco chief executive and Nottingham Business School alumnus, Dave Lewis. He was invited by John Iles, one of five students undertaking the company’s graduate scheme during the course before moving on within the business.

Along with BABM, Nottingham Business School runs the fully-sponsored BA (Hons) Management and Leadership degree. This course is used by Rolls-Royce, for example, as part of its Higher Apprenticeship programme, a format which is now becoming a blueprint for the government’s new Degree Level Apprenticeships. For more information on NBS work-based and sponsored degrees, visit