To combat rising higher-education costs, United Kingdom accounting students could soon take advantage of a full ride in tuition fees, along with a starting salary of £20,000 (approximately $31,750)—if they commit to a minimum of six years work at KPMG in the U.K.

This fall, the firm, in partnership with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), will fund the education of 75 students at Durham University in Durham, England, in the initial year of the program. The first four years, students will pursue their degree at the university’s business school while working part-time at KPMG. Upon completion of the final two years of work with the firm, students will receive professional chartered accountancy qualification from ICAEW.

The program’s hiring of non-graduates is a shift in practice for KPMG in the U.K., and one which the firm says it hopes will foster greater diversity.

"We are really excited about this scheme, which we think is genuinely ground-breaking and innovative,” said Oliver Tant, KPMG U.K.’s head of audit, in a statement. “For us, one of the key things is to ensure fair access to the profession by ensuring the greatest number of young people possible go to university—and also have the potential to train as an accountant.”

The program is still in development, with Durham University considering it for full approval.

“I hope other employers and universities will study the concept carefully,” said David Willetts, the U.K. minister for universities and science, in a statement. “It's the kind of initiative that we hope will flourish as we reform higher education.”

Deloitte in the U.K. announced a similar program for 2011 last December.