MANCHESTER United’s Class of 92 have spoken ahead of the opening of their University Academy 92 (UA92).

The university, based at Old Trafford, will open this September.

It is set to offer degrees in subjects such as Accountancy, Journalism and Sports Performance, but with an added focus on personal and character development, as well as the skills needed for the workplace.

Former England right back and Class of 92 member Gary Neville believes that these personal characteristics are just as important as the academic side of things for any student planning on attending the university.

He said: “It’s not our job to do the course for them. They’ll be expected to work really hard every day, but it’s the platform that we give them to enable them to thrive.

“They’re going to have to have good energy, passion, good attitude but the rest of it is up to us. If they don’t have those qualities then they’re going to struggle.”

Gary’s brother Phil agreed. “When we first joined Manchester United,” he said, “There were certain values we had to live up to and I think simple hard work was the number one value. That’s why we became successful, not because of the talent or the skill, but because we worked as hard as we possibly could and that’s something we want to instil into the students.”

Unlike regular universities, students will have regular timetables, either being in mornings or the afternoon.

Principal and CEO of the university, Professor Craig Gaskell explained how this could benefit students.

He said: “We’ve adopted this structured timetable which means students are either in four hours in the morning or four hours in the afternoon. That creates a framework for them to do other things. A lot of students have to work while they’re full time students and they do bar work and things like that because their timetable changes every term or every year and they can’t nail things down. What we wanted to do was create a programme that created a real work ethic and stability.”

Gary Neville also believes that this routine could make a huge difference to how students can learn and secure jobs.

He added: “I think one of the main frustrations when we was were setting this up came when we looked at the academic side of things. Ninety-nine per cent of universities have an erratic curriculum.

“You think of the structured way in which you live your life as a child; go to school every day, go college, then all of a sudden you’re just about to embark on your working life and you get given an erratic programme that doesn’t have any alignment with what you want to face in life.

“You can’t pin down a proper job in the field you’re studying because you can’t have certainty over your curriculum.

“For instance, you could be studying journalism but have to work 35 hours a week at Nando’s to support yourself, how mad is that? There’s nothing wrong with working there but you lose 35 hours a week out of your personal development. That’s a mountain of time where you could have been studying in journalism or tying down a job.”

Today, the university has also announced a scholarship scheme, called 92 Champions, which offers fully funded studentships for UA92 students.

One of the first supporters of the scheme is telecoms giant TalkTalk which is relocating its headquarters from London to Salford Quays.

Sponsoring UA92 students through their degree programme means not only covering their £9,000 a year tuition fee but also offering support throughout their studies whether it be guiding them through projects relating to their course, mentoring and work placement opportunities to the students.

Daniel Kasmir, chief people officer at TalkTalk said: “We are delighted to be supporting 92 Champions. It comes at a pivotal time for TalkTalk as we relocate our HQ from London to Salford Quays.

“We are creating hundreds of roles in the North West so we want to ensure the talent pipeline in the area continues to be strong and diverse.The partnership with UA92 will give students who may face barriers to degree level education the financial and career support they need, giving them the skills and tools they need for future success.”

Prof Gaskell added: “One thing that’s really important that we’re doing is providing accessible routes into higher education. These are top quality degrees awarded by the University of Lancaster.

“If students aren’t quite ready for a full degree in terms of results we have a mechanism where they can study for the first year and maybe carry on.

“We want to send a really strong message to our local community that if anyone has the aspiration to study for a degree in any of these subjects then please just get in touch with us in the next few days.”