UCL to tackle credit crunch with free training and consultancy

9 April 2009

UCL has unveiled a radical, £3.8million package of activity designed to prepare UCL students for entry into an unprecedentedly difficult employment market, and to support London businesses during the economic downturn.

A number of measures have been devised to provide extensive support to students graduating this summer, including a £1,000 discount on taught Masters fees for those who wish to continue their studies at UCL.

Further strands of activity have been designed to facilitate access for London’s small businesses to UCL’s world-class problem-solving expertise, and to professional training provided by the university to enhance the skills and career prospects of people already in employment.

The first part of the package follows a successful bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s ‘Economic Challenge Investment Fund’. UCL has today received £500,000 from this fund, which it will boost with a further £2million from a combination of its own income, Capital Enterprise (the membership body for deliverers of enterprise support in London), biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and other sources. The total £2.5million represents the largest financial commitment on the part of all universities receiving funding from the ECIF to this kind of activity.

The £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 to 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), said: “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.”

 

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