The top consulting firms for UK graduates and students

07 November 2017 4 min. read
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The annual UK ranking of the top century of graduate employers has been announced by the Times news group. 18 professional services industry players feature in the ranking this year.

The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers is a renowned yearly annual guide of Britain’s most sought-after and prestigious graduate employers, compiled from interviews with over 20,000 graduates. The university leavers, who exited education in 2017, were each asked which employer they believed offers the best opportunities for graduates. When the first Top 100 league table was published in 1999, consulting firm Accenture topped the rankings, and over the course of the nineteen editions that the table has seen, just two other employers, the Civil Service and PwC have usurped them from number one since then.

As that fact would suggest, professional services groups have traditionally enjoyed a strong presence on the list, with 2017 proving no different. This year, the list featured 18 industry players, including the entire Big Four, and the top names in strategy and engineering consulting segments. This, despite the fact that professional services and accounting firms do not offer the highest starting salary available to graduates, at an average of £30,000 a year, while starters at consulting firms brought in £31,500 annually, compared to the top earning industry of investment banking, at £47,000.

Big names remain

Following another year as the world’s largest consulting industry playerPwC retained top spot on the list, with the professional services giants having positioned first for numerous consecutive years. Other members of the Big Four, meanwhile, enjoyed mixed fortunes in the list – despite all ranking in the top ten. While Deloitte climbed to sixth, leapfrogging EY in eighth, KPMG did not move from ninth. Accenture, who formerly topped the list, now rank 16th, rising one place on last year’s ordering.

The top consulting firms for UK graduates and students

Strategy firms also maintained a healthy presence meanwhile. While McKinsey & Company remained on the cusp of the top 20, ranked 21st for the second year running, with the Boston Consulting Group maintaining a top 40 presence. Bain & Company meanwhile sat in 74th.


In the field of engineering consultancies, Arup rose six places to sit in 27th, making them the industry’s most rapid climbers over the past year, while Newton Consulting ascended from 53rd to 37th. While the rest of the segment did not fare so well, fellow engineering and construction outfits still maintained a presence on the list, including Atkins at number 41, Aecom in 80th, and Mott MacDonald’s profile among new graduates ranked 90th.

Other consulting figures to make the list included technology specialists IBM, who were positioned in 25th. Global professional services group Grant Thornton ranked 86th, surpassed by real estate firm Savills, who saw their profile improve to the tune of 11 ranks, from 94th to 83rd.

The top consulting firms for UK graduates and students - Other

Media and design agency WPP meanwhile were listed 61st. The group has reportedly come under growing pressure from the consulting industry over the past year in particular, as large consulting firms have increasingly encroached on the market – though WPP claim this has been greatly exaggerated.

Climbing 20 places, meanwhile, media conglomerate Bloomberg was the 76th most popular graduate employer in the UK. While the group is perhaps best known for its journalistic work, it recently entered the field of consulting. The new advisory wing of Bloomberg hopes to leverage its vast information resources relating to business intelligence, as well as its broad base of experts in order to provide solutions for clients.