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UCL tackles credit crunch with free training and consultancy

Publication date: May 5, 2009 10:07:11 AM

UCL has unveiled a radical, £3.8million package of recession-busting activity designed to support London businesses during the economic downturn and prepare UCL’s own students for entry into an unprecedentedly difficult employment market. Different strands of activity will make it easy for London’s small businesses to access UCL’s world class problem-solving expertise, provide CV-boosting professional training for people already in employment, and give extensive support to students graduating in the summer (including a discount on fees for those who wish to continue their studies at UCL).

The first part of the package follows a successful bid to HEFCE’s (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) ‘Economic Challenge Investment Fund’. £2.5million of activity will provide:

  • up to 135 students with the opportunity to spend 8-12 weeks on fully-funded internships with local businesses in London. They’ll gather valuable work experience and boost the local economy by tackling real-world business problems in science, engineering and technology.
  • 560 places for students and local people on intensive business language training courses in Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin and European languages.
  • an intensive, week-long, summer "boot camp" in entrepreneurship to teach UCL graduates the basics of starting up a business, reading balance sheets and producing a solid business plan. Other workshops will develop business skills and general commercial awareness.
  • additional investment in UCL’s Careers Service to ensure graduates have access to professional careers support for at least one year following graduation. 500 individual coaching and mentoring places will be provided, supported by major employers including Deloitte, National Rail and Siemens.

The HEFCE award will also enable UCL to provide more than 500 local people with places on courses to help them maintain and develop core technical skills, or retrain for a new career. All courses will include certificates of completion and examples include retraining for finance professionals who are moving from the City to small businesses, and advanced computer-aided design and manufacturing courses for workers in the construction and engineering sectors.

The second part of UCL’s plan comes in the form of a £1.3 million project called HELO (Higher Education London Outreach) which is being led by UCL and supported by London Business School (LBS). The scheme has been designed to enable London businesses to access free consultancy and technical expertise from these leading institutions.

Tim Barnes, Executive Director of UCL Advances (the centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction at UCL), says: “Through HELO we’ll identify a funnel of businesses within Greater London which have specific business problems and then find the individuals within the UCL and LBS families who can help find the solutions. These will be small-scale projects to provide real solutions to real world problems, making a noticeable difference to people’s businesses.

“The type of work we envisage ranges from the lower end of technical consultancy where, for example, a UCL engineer works with a company for a week or two to tackle a particular manufacturing problem, right through something as simple as helping a small high street shop to market themselves more effectively by advertising themselves online.

“We’ll be working to identify problems within the community and give people access to support from a network of highly skilled people within these excellent institutions. This is about helping people to prosper and transform both themselves and their communities.”

UCL President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, said: “Universities need to play a central role in helping people to adapt to the new economic landscape we’re all being faced with. The initiatives announced today will provide an extensive network of support for thousands of people and give hundreds of local businesses access to new resources in these difficult times.

“We’re giving local, small enterprises access to consultancy and expertise that could really benefit their business. We’re also training and retraining people so that they are best placed to deal with the demands of a changing economy, and all of this comes hard on the heels of our recent announcement to cut fees for UCL undergraduates who decide to boost their skills and maximise their employability by pursuing a Masters programme here in 2009 (see: www.tinyurl.com/crxr8n).”

If you are interested in taking part in any of the new programmes mentioned in this release, please contact UCL Advances by emailing advances@ucl.ac.uk

-Ends-

Notes for editors

Contact details:

For further information please contact Dave Weston in the UCL Press Office on +44 (0) 20 7679 7678 or d.weston@ucl.ac.uk

About UCL (University College London):

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is the seventh-ranked university in the 2008 THES-QS World University Rankings, and the third-ranked UK university in the 2008 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Marie Stopes, Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Woolf, Alexander Graham Bell, and members of the band Coldplay. UCL currently has over 12,000 undergraduate and 8,000 postgraduate students. Its annual income is over £600 million. For further information see: www.ucl.ac.uk

About UCL Advances:

UCL Advances is the centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction at UCL. It exists to stimulate collaboration among researchers, business and investors, driving innovations that benefit society and the economy, with a particular focus on new businesses and SME engagement. For more information see: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/index.html

About the HEFCE and the Economic Challenge Investment Fund:

Recipients of the Economic Challenge Investment Fund was announced by HEFCE on 9 April 2009. Higher education institutions had to submit bids by 27 February 2009.

The total value of the 58 bids accepted by HEFCE is £53,715,080. The total amount of funding being made available by HEFCE to successful bidders is £25,032,647, with the remainder provided in the form of matching contributions from institutions and local partners. The funding will support institutions in delivering short-term support between April 2009 and September 2010.

This funding is additional to the £148 million that HEFCE is providing over three years to support universities and colleges to respond to employer demand for courses and training to raise workforce skills to high levels. HEFCE is funding 60 lead institutions which have contracted to deliver 10,700 new places in 2008-09 for employees, co-funded by their employers; and almost 16,000 places have been contracted for 2009-10.

About Higher Education London Outreach (HELO):

Project 'HELO' (Higher Education London Outreach) is a new initiative led by UCL in partnership with MegaNexus Ltd and supported by London Business School and others.

HELO will deliver a programme of new activities designed to link London-based SME's with UCL and London Business School staff and students to meet business needs and overcome the problems that limit their growth. The project is led by UCL Advances (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/), the centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction at UCL.

HELO is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the London Development Agency.