Investing In Employees: Corporate Sponsorship In Higher Education

Many businesses today look to invest in their employees through capitalising in their existing talent pool. Financial benefits aside, corporate sponsorship of workers’ education shows a company’s willingness to invest in its people and breaks down the often-perceived cold image of the business world. This investment in employees is becoming a popular strategy for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Corporate Social Responsibility
A report by businessnewsdaily.com shows over 90% of people surveyed are more likely to trust and be loyal to socially responsible businesses compared to companies that don’t show these traits.

Despite this, some of the world’s largest businesses are only spending a small percentage of their sustainability budgets on education.

A comprehensive study into global corporate spending on education, which was published in January 2015 by the Varkey Foundation, finds that Fortune Global 500 companies only spend $2.6bn per year on education-related projects, which accounts for 13% of their total annual CSR budget of $19.9bn. And less than half spend any money on education-related CSR. At the top of global spending on education were Santander, IBM and Telefonica. In the UK, GlaxoSmithKline, Rio Tinto and HSBC were the highest ranked.

Upskilling
People are fundamental to business and economic success. Without a talented workforce equipped with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes, the ability of firms to innovate and grow is severely diminished.

A business that actively upskills it’s staff with additional training can boost morale amongst workers, as this displays a clear investment in an employee’s career advancement within the company. The benefits of employee sponsorship is also shown in a study by Cigna, who investigated employee tuition and found it yields significant financial payback for the major corporations who contributed.

Lucy Winskell, OBE, DL Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and Engagement) at Northumbria University says “Northumbria University is a business-engaged university. It’s a research-rich university and it’s a university with a reputation for global excellence”. She continues “What we want to do at Northumbria is to help businesses grow, so they become stronger, sustainable, long lasting businesses”.

Sponsoring Employees For Part-Time Study
At Northumbria University, the part-time postgraduate degrees at the London campus are specifically designed to allow students to advance their career and fit alongside work and personal life. Lectures take place across 15-18 weekends over a 2-year period, meaning that students don’t need to take any time off work to attend classes. Sponsoring an employee onto a part-time Masters programme is a strategic investment a company’s cyber security, web technology, project management operations or computing strength.

In 2016 17% of students were sponsored in part or full by their employer as businesses continue to recognise the advantages of a Masters level study. One alumnus Ian Stuart, was sponsored by his company to study an MA in Applied Project Management. He says that on the back of successfully achieving his MA it has allowed him “to take a higher role in my workplace and my employer has benefited from the new skills learned through the course”. So not only do employees benefit from sponsored study but so does the wider company. Newly acquired skills and knowledge can be immediately applied to the workplace and additionally be filtered throughout the business through leadership and management. As Dr Neill Parry, R&D Programme Director at Unilever says “What Northumbria University bring to the table is not just a one-to-one relationship, but one to many”.

For businesses unable to offer full or part sponsorship, there are additional opportunities to support employees through Masters study with Northumbria University.
Salary sacrifice: An employee’s salary is exchanged in part for non-financial benefits from the employer.
Interest free payment plan: Allows students to pay their Masters fees in manageable fixed monthly instalments over two years without incurring additional charges or interest.
Postgraduate loan: Provided by the UK Government, the postgraduate loan is available to all eligible UK and EU students studying any postgraduate degree, full or part time. Eligible students can borrow up to £10,609 and pay back the loan based upon their income.

For more information on fees and financing for our part-time Masters click here.

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