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Flying Start Programme: 20th Anniversary: Current Students

Learn more from our current Flying Start cohort and their experiences of the course

Our current Flying Start cohort

Current students share their experiences of the Flying Start course so far. Get the most up-to-date information on everything you need to know, from insights into the lectures to skills and knowledge learnt on the course so far, as well as stepping into a day in the life on placement at PwC.

Francesca Ronaldson

Why did you choose this course at Newcastle University Business School?

The opportunities provided by the Flying Start programme were unparalleled in comparison to other accounting degrees. This programme includes benefits such as:

  • the ability to work and go on placements during your degree
  • gaining a real-life perspective throughout your education
  • completing 12 out of 15 ICAEW exams by the end of your degree

The BAF course at Newcastle University Business School is an accelerant into a high demand industry with incredible gains in your ACA qualification.


What’s your favourite thing about this course?

My favourite thing about the course has to be the people! Spending four years in the PwC room with 55 people makes you very close and it is truly a community of friends and family. Working so closely with each other in university and on placement creates a bond between us which is astounding, especially considering most who go to university are in courses and lectures upwards of 400 people. I can count on any of my course-mates to support me in any and all situation, whether that is silently cheering me on when I have to do a presentation, or helping me understand something in a lecture.

Current Flying Start student, Francesca Ronaldson

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A typical day on placement with PwC

The day always began with a catch-up meeting. This was the most important part of my day. It provided everyone with the opportunity to keep up to date with workload and identify areas of concern or particular focus, so that projects could be completed to a high standard.

The next couple of hours would be focused on completing our tasks and speaking to clients, which as a junior member of the team could be quite intimidating. However, my seniors would always be available for me if I felt I needed support.

After lunch we’d all have an afternoon cup of tea or coffee which settled everyone nicely into their afternoon of work. At around 3:30/4:00pm we would often have an online game to play, for example a quiz or a drawasaurus. This always kept spirits high in my teams! It allowed us to get to know each other outside of work, and particularly when we were virtual, it was the time you really talked to your colleagues without it focusing on work.

At 5:30 we’d finish for the day, unless on a particularly busy job. If you were working on a project with overtime, you would tend to stay later, and a second game was a must!

The benefits of going on placement

Having a placement integrated through university allows you to understand responsibility and professionalism that is necessary outside of full-time education. Working in an office, as part of a team, along with client interaction is different to university and teaches you very important life skills; from being friendly and approachable to serious and professional.

This opportunity has stressed how social interaction and your attitude affects others, especially when you are involved in a team, spending many hours together. This is a key skill for your future, which working throughout university prepares you for.

“…it is truly a community of friends and family. Working so closely with each other in university and on placement creates a bond between us which is astounding…”

Francesca Ronaldson, current Flying Start student

Francesca’s advice for prospective students

Make sure you are committed. This course can set you up with a degree and career. However, you complete professional exams along the way which are difficult, so make sure that if you join this course you go in headfirst and embrace all it has to offer.

The camaraderie within all flying starts, both within the university and alumni, is incredible. You will join a very select community. All have had to push themselves to be here. The only person that can make you do well is yourself, so be committed to your future and work for it, because the result is worth it.

Sophie Huggins

Why did you choose this course at Newcastle University Business School?

I chose to apply for the flying start programme as the staff were so welcoming on the interview day compared to other courses I was looking at. The day was well organised, and I felt that this would be reflected in the course, which it has been. Additionally, the city of Newcastle is extremely vibrant and I couldn’t have chosen a better place to spend the last 4 years.

What's your best memory so far from your studies?

The feeling after finishing exams knowing we’re one step closer to being a chartered accountant is very rewarding. Also, having the opportunity to organise the BAF ball this year was incredible, and was certainly a night to remember and treasure.

The benefits of going on placement

I am currently on my 3rd placement at PwC and have really enjoyed them so far. I’ve been able to work with some interesting clients in banking and capital markets and the teams have been great to work with.

I have already achieved 12 out of 15 professional exemptions for the exams to become a chartered accountant. Furthermore, the placement working days have contributed to the 450 days of practical work experiences needed towards the qualifications.

Providing I pass the course with a 2:1 or above, I will be joining PwC London in Banking and Capital Markets after graduating, which is exciting!

“…the Flying Start programme is certainly one of the best in the accounting field…”

Sophie Huggins, current Flying Start student

Sophie’s advice for prospective students

Have a look at what similar courses offer in terms of professional exemptions and placement opportunities, as the Flying Start programme is certainly one of the best in the accounting field.

Overall, I’ve absolutely loved the last few years on BAF and would encourage others to apply!