UCL Changemakers


ChangeMakers FAQs

If your question isn't answered here, please contact us on changemakers@ucl.ac.uk or consider attending a drop-in session.

General questions about ChangeMakers

What is ChangeMakers?

UCL ChangeMakers has been running at UCL since 2014/15. It was set up to support students and staff working in partnership on projects that improve the learning and wider student experience at UCL by providing funding and support. UCL ChangeMakers is underpinned by a partnership approach. Student-staff partnerships play a crucial role in shaping education by combining student voice, ideas and action alongside the expertise of staff in a relationship centred around reciprocity and respect. A student-staff partnership approach recognises that both staff and students bring different but equally valuable perspectives, ideas, experiences and expertise to a project. 

Also important to a partnership approach is being intentional about who we are working with to ensure we are not just replicating old ways of working but really creating change that will benefit all students. Embracing UCL's diverse student body, fostering strong student-staff partnerships is vital to achieve this. The 'Creating Inclusive Partnerships' toolkit offers practical guidance for those in partnership with marginalised students.

Do you have any examples of previous projects?

Yes, have a look at our case studies section.

Questions about the application process


When is the deadline for applications?

Our deadlines will be advertised on the ChangeMakers homepage, and our Moodle site.

Who can apply?

We accept applications from both staff and students. All applications must have a written statement of support. If you are a student this should be from a member of staff in the department or from a related area who will act as the staff partner. If you are a member of staff you must have a statement of support from a student - they do not need to go on to take your project forward however if you have not yet recruited your team, the statement could be from e.g. a Student Rep.

We can only accept projects from current UCL students and staff.

Both staff and student applications must demonstrate why the issue the project is seeking to address or enhance is important to current students. 

Can I propose more than one project?

We strongly recommend you propose only one project. Consider your workload and priorities carefully!

Can my department propose more than one project?

Yes, projects are judged by a panel of students and staff on their own merit against our criteria. However, if a department (or single member of staff/student) submits multiple projects we will ask you to collaborate or prioritise.

Can I apply for the same project twice?

No. ChangeMakers funding should be viewed as funding to test/pilot an idea and win support. We are unable to fund repeats of the same project. Instead, you should be looking at how to build up a case to embed your project within the department as part of the initial project. However, we do also want to ensure that projects are impactful so if you have run a project in the past and would like to build on the outcomes of that project, please email to discuss further on changemakers@ucl.ac.uk.

I am a student with a project idea. Do I need a staff partner?

Yes, ChangeMakers is based on student-staff partnership, so all projects should have strong evidence that this partnership will drive the project forward. We find that if a project has buy-in from staff in your department there is a bigger chance of the project being successful and having a longer-term impact. Staff offer vital insights into the department that you might not be aware of and could greatly impact your project. They will help you navigate the tricky process of making a lasting change and help make sure what you are trying to do aligns with the goals of the department. They are also experts in their fields and in teaching/supporting students at university. 

I’m a member of staff with a project idea – how do I find students to work with?

If you have particular students in mind, this is fine, but we also recommend advertising your project on a relevant Moodle forum, doing a shout out in your lectures, or in a newsletter, with some criteria to help you decide who best to work with (e.g. if they need to know any particular software, or need experience on a specific topic or module/programme).

You must show that you are engaging with and empowering marginalised and underrepresented groups of students. Always include a positive action statement (e.g. "We particularly welcome applications from students who are underrepresented and/or identify as belonging to a marginalised group") when recruiting to your project or your project activities.

If you are a member of staff from a central department without direct access to students, contact the ChangeMakers team (changemakers@ucl.ac.uk) and we can help you recruit students for your project.

Is this just for taught students (undergraduate and postgraduate taught) or can postgraduate research student get involved?

ChangeMakers is open to all current students and staff. Ensuring postgraduate research PGR students have an amazing experience at UCL is just as important as for taught students.

PGR students can also be part of ChangeMakers project teams looking at the experience of other students. For example, we have had projects in the past where PGR students, who have recently been a Master students, want to draw on that experience to make improvements for the next cohort of Master students.

It might also be that PGR students have the research skills required to really make a success of your project, and it can be really powerful to pair PGR students with UG students in a mentoring relationship within the project team. 

I am a professional services member of staff, can I propose a project?

Absolutely, all staff can submit a project. 

Can my project be part of my dissertation/thesis?

Unfortunately we cannot support projects that are in any way linked to dissertations.

I'm not sure if ChangeMakers is the right funding opportunity for me...

Drop us an email on changemakers@ucl.ac.uk and we can have a chat about what you want to do and whether it would be better supported through other funding streams.

Questions about the projects

How long should projects take?

Projects usually take around 12 weeks. It is always a good idea to have a discussion with others on your team about key milestones for the project and how these might fit in or be impacted by competing demands on your time. 

Is there an end date for the projects?

We will ask for you to report on your project via an 'end of funding' reporting form in June. We call the report 'end of funding', rather than 'end of project', as we acknowledge that some projects may not be quite finished at that stage in the year.

Can the projects be about anything?

In order to make projects more impactful, ensure they are a good use of time and funding and to help students and staff address key challenges, we have themes for ChangeMakers projects. These will be reviewed on an annual basis. Our themes for 2023/24 are:

  • Enhancement theme: Making Connections

  • Innovation theme: Re-imagining Education

  • Engaging with Difficult Knowledge (Eugenics Legacies Education Project)

We will consider projects across any theme that address mental health and wellbeing support, especially where these are embedding within the curriculum rather than as add-on activity. For more information on the current themes please see the associated webpages.

How do you choose the project themes?

The themes are based on our current student priorities and are agreed by the Student Experience Committee. 

What criteria do you use when deciding which projects to fund?

Applications for funding will be reviewed against our criteria below. All projects must be a collaborative effort involving at least two students and one member of staff who is committed to act as the staff partner throughout the lifecycle of the project. It will be key to describe how you will be working with marginalised and under-represented student populations throughout your project.

1. The applicants have demonstrated why the identified area they wish to address is important to a diverse range of students, drawing on relevant existing data or local/institutional strategy where possible.

2. A genuine partnership methodology has been articulated from design through to implementation and dissemination. The project design and ways of working with students demonstrate an inclusive, strengths-based approach that values the diverse perspectives of the student body.

3. The project seeks to empower a broad spectrum of students as part of the project team and/or through other activities during the project, fostering a sense of belonging and engagement.

4. The project should result in tangible outcomes (which can include discovering limitations or that it doesn't work as intended) that will positively impact educational practice or enhance the student experience (including those of marginalised and underrepresented groups) at UCL. This has been well-articulated in the changes the team wants to see, and the approach and outputs align with those changes.

5. The applicants have indicated how learnings/project outcomes could impact a wider group of students beyond the initial pilot. For example, if changes are being tested within a module, there is a plan/commitment to disseminate and implement these more widely to benefit a diverse student population.

6. The major milestones identified by the team will help them achieve their aims and objectives while ensuring inclusivity and accessibility.

A detailed breakdown of what the panel look for under each of these criteria can be found on our Moodle.

How many students should be on a project team?

At least two students, working with at least one member of staff. This gives a balanced group dynamic. Teams can be bigger than this, especially if you are considering a collaborative project across one or more departments/faculties, but not so big that the stipends are diluted and it is difficult to find a time to meet and really work effectively as a team. Consider the kinds of activities you wish to do for your project and consult our student workload model on the Moodle.

How do I tell people at UCL about my project?

Once your project is underway, you can let people know via your departmental news channels, especially if later on you want to advertise for focus group participants, or send out a survey. Once your project has started producing outputs, these can also be advertised – perhaps consider creating a webpage or blog for this. We always recommend a Close the Loop campaign.

At the end of your project, we will work with you to produce a community-facing output. This could be a short video, a blog post, a case study, a lunchtime session, a conference presentation, or an interview in the staff or student newsletters. These will be advertised via various channels including the ChangeMakers website, Moodle, and the Teaching & Learning Portal. You are also welcome to take your project outcomes to your departmental or faculty meetings, and beyond UCL.

Questions about funding

What funding is available?

Depending on the scope and aims of your project, you can apply for £900 (60 hour project) or £1300 (90 hour project). This funding is reserved for student stipends only. You can bid for additional project costs of up to £300.

How many projects are you able to fund?

We are looking to support and fund around 40 projects. 

In addition to the funding for departmental projects, we also support students to work in partnership with staff at a faculty level (faculty-level projects are initiated via your Arena Centre Faculty Lead). Contact us if you have an idea for a faculty level project.

Is there a date by which I need to spend the funding?

Yes, every year project funding must be spent by 31st July (end of UCL's financial year).

Do we need to provide a breakdown for how we have spent the funding?

We ask for a budget breakdown in the application form to demonstrate that your project is feasible and that you are using the funding in a way that will help you achieve the aims of your project. However, you won't be held to that and we do understand that your project may change as you undertake it which could have implications on how the funding is spent. We recommend appointing someone in the team to manage the budget. We will not be able to give out any extra funding if you overspend. Please follow UCL financial procedures for spending your funding

How do we access the funding?

In the application form, we ask for a budget code, also known as a Project/Task/Award. This usually takes the form of XXXXXX/100/156780. If we don’t have this, we can’t transfer your funds. Your departmental administrator or departmental finance manager will know which code will be best for you to use. Once your application is successful and you have responded to any feedback, plus undertaken essential training, we can make the transfer to your department. The staff partner or departmental finance manager will be able to help you access your funding, and will be able to make purchases on your behalf. Please note: student stipends are to be paid from the funding that is transferred to you and should be paid towards the end of the project (or when agreed within your project team) and before the end of the financial year. Ensure that students are set up on iExpenses in good time before financial year-end in case of issues/delays with payments.

How do I pay student stipends?

We recommend that stipends are paid out at the end of a project as a way to reward and thank students for their valuable contribution. Stipends should be paid via iExpenses (department guidance and student guidance).

Is there anything I can't use the funding for?

All funding should be spent in line with UCL financial procedures.

We can’t offer funding for the following items and activities:

  • Capital costs (e.g. pieces of equipment);
  • Any stipends or voucher payments to individuals who are not students registered at UCL in the current academic year.
  • Any work that directly relates to personal research - benefits to the UCL student experience must be clear;
  • Any work with individuals who do not fall into the following categories:
    • Students registered at UCL;
    • Staff employed by UCL;
    • Staff employed by an organisation in a formal academic partnership with UCL;
    • UCL student alumni.

Questions about support & training

What support can I expect from the UCL ChangeMakers team?

If this is the first time you have thought about doing a ChangeMakers project, you'll need to self-enrol on our Moodle, which has guidance on working in partnership, tips from past projects, and other information you will need to help you manage a successful project.

Please attend a session in the run up to a deadline to talk to us about your ideas. We will be offering 'Initial Guiance' and 'Developing your application' sessions, as well as sessions on our themes, and on partnership working for students.

After the deadline applications are reviewed by a panel of staff and students. We aim to inform project teams of the panel's decisions within two weeks, and we will enclose some feedback when we notify you of the outcome. Please read this carefully, as it may contain information that will affect the success of your project.  

If your application is successful and you complete the recommended training, you can begin work straight away. The funds will be transferred directly to your department to your named budget code. We will be offering online and in-person drop-ins in the UCL Arena Centre for anyone with questions throughout the lifecycle of the projects. We also have a dedicated email (changemakers@ucl.ac.uk) for project queries. 

If your application is unsuccessful we will give you detailed feedback. You are welcome to reapply at a subsequent deadline.

Questions about ethics

There's some stuff about ethics on the application form. What does it mean?

ChangeMakers is funded by the UCL Arena Centre, and all ChangeMakers project activity, e.g. focus groups, must fall within the scope of the ethics approval we’ve been given by UCL Research Ethics Committee for small scale educational projects. Please check the ethics section on our Moodle, and BERA's code of ethics.

If it doesn’t, your application won’t be eligible for ChangeMakers funding.

Can we run focus groups?

Our ethics approval requires that you use our information sheet and consent form templates if you run a focus group or collect any data. These can be found on the ChangeMakers Moodle, and once your project has finished you will need to send these to us. We also ask that all members of your team read our ethics guidance and complete our ethics training (staff and students) and keep us informed if your data collection approach changes. We have also developed some guidance on running online focus groups.