Part-time study

Employer sponsorship: the basics

Thinking about a postgraduate degree? Great news! It may be possible to get funding from your employer. Sound good? keep reading.

This guide should tell you everything you need to negotiate with your employer and start studying a postgraduate course at Birmingham City University! After reading you can download our request template form to help with your funding request.

Do your research

If your employer is going to help you fund your course, they are going to want to know how it will benefit the company. To persuade your employer, it’s important that you identify the benefits and potential struggles that studying for a postgraduate degree might involve. 

Find out about your employer's sponsorship policies

Is there a specific criteria you have to meet? What are the terms and conditions? If there is a policy, find out what it asks of all the parties involved. What commitments do you have to make and what is your employer’s commitment to you? This may be in your employee handbook but it is advised to speak to someone from Human Resources to get a comprehensive view of the opportunities on offer.

What if my company has no employer sponsorship policy?

If your company doesn’t offer any kind of employer sponsorship it shouldn’t stop you from considering a postgraduate course! Postgraduate loans are now available and offer up to £10,609 for postgraduate study. The loans are available for most subjects and are a contribution to costs including fees and living costs. Visit our funding page and download our Postgraduate loan guide to learn more.

Even if your company isn’t funding your course, you might still require their support, even if a little understanding. This is where your business case will be useful.

Know your course inside out

The Birmingham City University course pages will have all the information you need concerning:

  • Course content
  • Post-graduation prospects (useful for letting your employer know how you’ll be qualified to return their investment)
  • Any professional accreditation
  • Entry requirements

Fees, workload and contact time can be found via course enquiries.

The information on the course pages should give you and your employer an idea of what both of your commitments might be. Higher contact times, for instance, may mean you need flexible working hours or the option to work a four-day week if needed.

Making your request

After you’ve done your research you’ll be in a great position to make a business case to your employer. Your business case could be an informal meeting with your manager or part of your application (if there is a sponsorship policy in place), but whatever form it takes you should address the following concerns:

Points to cover
How will your course benefit you?
Consider factors such as drive, motivation, increased knowledge and awareness of the sector, application of modern theories, meeting a previous appraisal target etc.
How will your course benefit the company?
You might include:
  • The ability to pass on your knowledge to other employees
  • The company gaining publicity as a company that invests in its employees
  • Increasing the skills in the office and cultivating internal talent
  • Addressing performance needs, bringing up-to-date technical and specialist knowledge or adding accreditation to the office.
How will your expertise fill gaps within the company?
Your new course might be one that comes with a specialisation in an area of the business that is currently lacking. You could also earn a degree that is accredited by a professional body, which is something the business can advertise. You may have noticed business-wide issues that your postgraduate degree can help remedy etc.
The terms and conditions

One of the biggest fears facing an employer in this situation is the retention of the employee once they have completed the degree. It is not unusual for employers to tie you into a contract, ensuring you don’t immediately take your new knowledge elsewhere. Be sure to ask about the terms and conditions and think about what you’re comfortable with. Pay close attention to the repercussions if you cannot complete the degree (in the case of illness or special circumstances). Is there a repayment agreement, for instance?

Prepare your own questions
  • What assistance will I receive?
  • Will I be allowed certain study days away from work? (for tests/assessments)
  • Will I be measured by any KPIs based on my course?
  • Will there be an annual review of my progress?

Ask anything you think might be relevant and ensure your employer knows you’ve thought about the decision.

Top Tip

The best way to find out about employer sponsorship is to ask. Don’t be afraid. Sponsorship is not something that all employers offer but a good business case might sway them. Either way, it’s not an inappropriate question.

What next? Download our employer assistance template below to structure your request!
Employer assistance form

Fill in your details to download the employer assistance template.

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