Since 2005 MCC has funded six university cricket academies in England and Wales - the MCC Universities (MCCUs).
The MCCUs are based in Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Leeds, Loughborough and Oxford, and incorporate a total of thirteen institutions. They offer hundreds of courses for students of all academic levels, and some of the best coaching and facilities available anywhere in the country.
The aim of the MCCUs is to give talented young cricketers the chance to receive top-level coaching and playing opportunities whilst furthering their education.
Even the very finest sporting academies do not have a 100% success rate, so the MCCUs offer the best environment to excel on and off the sporting field, and the opportunity to obtain a degree which will be valuable whether the dream of professional cricket becomes reality or not.
MCC is committed to giving each MCCU £92,700 per-year to run their playing programmes and ensure they can provide top-class coaching structures and facilities to students.
Every season, the MCCUs play three matches each against County opposition, whilst also competing against each other in the MCC Universities Championship - a two-day league competition with the reward of the MCC Universities Challenge Final at Lord’s for the best two sides.
The MCCU season finishes at the end of June, leaving the students to play out three months of the season with counties, or, if they have not been signed, be considered for selection for the MCC Universities side in the 2nd XI championship.
David Graveney OBE, the ECB’s National Performance Manager, carried out a review of the six MCC Universities throughout 2009. He said:
"I have been continually impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm shown by all involved in the MCC Universities.
"The MCCU coaches are outstanding, and the students’ commitment to training would dispel a few illusions of the '`cushy University life'.
"By their support of the MCCU programme, MCC plays a vital role in creating an environment for gifted and talented athletes to prosper."
The scheme works. Around a fifth of all English-qualified players in the county system attended an MCCU.
Andrew Strauss (Durham) is the most famous MCC University graduate.
The former England captain said of his time at University: "At Durham University I went through the transition of being a recreational cricketer to one who had the ambition to play the game for a living."
Some other notable county and international players who have also progressed through the MCCU ranks: England and Nottinghamshire’s Harry Gurney (Leeds/Bradford), Kent’s Sam Billings and Adam Riley (Loughborough) and Essex’s Mark Pettini (Cardiff).