Students play a significant role in knowledge exchange (KE) activities, from establishing start-ups and spin-offs to taking on consultancies, internships and placements. The benefits to universities are clear: in 2017-18, English universities generated over £3.7 billion from knowledge exchange activity. But what did the students involved in knowledge exchange gain?

To build better evidence of the student benefits of knowledge exchange, the Office for Students and Research England have now awarded £10 million of funding to 20 higher education providers in the UK for projects. The funded projects, which were announced on 20 April, will seek to identify how students benefit from this involvement, and address issues of equality, diversity and inclusion.

NCUB was involved in the evaluation of the bids for this funding competition, with our CEO Dr Joe Marshall on the external assessment panel. We are pleased to see such diversity amongst the projects, which will not only involve partnerships with business but also with communities and third sector organisations – illustrating the breadth and value of KE interactions.

We would like to congratulate all universities who have been awarded funding and are particularly delighted to see so many NCUB members among the successful applicants. We look forward to featuring the projects in detail as they move forward – but until then, you can find short summaries below:

  • Anglia Ruskin University‘s project will scale up its employability initiatives and introduce new interventions to provide students with relevant, real-world opportunities, where they can make a difference through knowledge exchange projects that create societal impact.
  • Brunel University London’s project aims to develop an effective knowledge exchange model of practice based on students’ immersive international experiences. Amongst other things, the experiences will allow cultural, knowledge and skill sharing across students and local communities.
  • Keele University’s project will focus on successful and complementary approaches to student-mediated knowledge exchange activities. It will work with overseas providers to consider how the programme can be embedded in curriculum design and will create a tool which will calculate the impact of these activities.
  • Pearson College’s project aims to create a work-integrated learning framework which will embed knowledge exchange activities into the curriculum and optimise its benefit to students and partners through expanded industry engagement.
  • Queen Mary University of London’s project will establish a new, student-driven, multi-disciplinary professional services organisation, combining the subject disciplines of law, management, economics and digital, to provide pro bono, social impact-driven consultancy and venture capital services to external partners.
  • The University of Sheffield’s project will create enhanced work placement opportunities with a range of existing and new cross-sector external organisations.The placements will lead to a series of follow-on projects.
  • University College London’s project will enable more inclusive participation of diverse groups of students, developing and evaluating initiatives where students participate in knowledge exchange activities such as entrepreneurial and start-up training, working with voluntary sector organisations or undertaking placements in policy settings.
  • University of Birmingham’s project will develop and test a new model for postgraduate taught students that will benefit their learning and transition to employment, and the local and regional organisations they engage with.
  • University of Bristol’s project aims to substantially scale up existing knowledge exchange activities and create a sustainable framework of student-led knowledge exchange embedded in the curriculum. Projects will place students at the heart of co-produced social science research with external partners and aim to address specific social and/or economic challenges.
  • University of Exeter’s project will measure, evaluate and expand the reach of an established student enterprise programme by introducing a new ‘intrapreneurial path’. This opens up knowledge exchange opportunities for students who want to develop new enterprise and subject-specific applied skills within a company or organisation, rather than start one.
  • University of Greenwich’s project will develop a new series of short programmes, initially delivered by a new enterprise hub that houses entrepreneurial teaching, learning and practice, where students will work in teams to solve problems and find solutions to live briefs set by the partner organisation.
  • University of Huddersfield’s project will be used to inform employer-led curriculum development. Through facilitated innovation and mentoring, teams of students will develop and pitch solutions to business-related or complex global challenges set by external partner organisations. Winning teams will then be offered short internships or placements to implement ideas which may lead to future employment, possible partnerships or student start-up companies.
  • University of Plymouth’s project will establish a new academy designed to equip students with the professional skills and behaviours required to deliver knowledge exchange effectively in a variety of settings, working with a range of partners to co-create training content, including an accessible e-learning package and face-to-face masterclasses.
  • University of Portsmouth’s project aims to increase the number and diversity of students that are involved in knowledge exchange and to develop their enterprise skills and commercial awareness, as well as attributes such as leadership and teamwork.
  • University of York’s project will bring together students, research and regional voluntary, cultural and statutory organisations to deliver student team-based projects as a method for knowledge exchange.
  • York St John University’s project will evaluate the benefits and effectiveness of a partnership between two universities and the NHS. Through this partnership, local people who use mental health services will participate in free courses run by staff and students at each of the universities.