UCL and RBS: boosting the career confidence of young women headed for the city

UCL and RBS: boosting the career confidence of young women headed for the city

Over the past year UCL has played host to the RBS sponsored Sprint programme with overwhelmingly positive feedback so far.


This piece orginally appeared on page 76 of NCUB's 2014 State of the Relationship Report. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

From 2013 to 2014, University College London (UCL) Careers (part of The Careers Group, University of London) partnered with The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to deliver a bespoke programme targeting female undergraduates and graduates, which aimed at improving their confidence when starting their careers.

RBS acted on research from the University of Oxford, which found that women are commonly put off applying to certain industries and earn considerably less on average than their male counterparts. Spurred on by the question of how to address this imbalance, build confidence and open the gate for women who wanted to enter careers in the city, the bank sponsored the Sprint programme. The Springboard Consultancy developed the programme which also gave RBS early access and engagement with students they hoped to recruit.

The bank approached some of their top target universities to see if they would like to bring this programme onto their campus. This approach chimed well with UCL Careers, which had noted similar concerns, and had been involved in setting up a Women in Management Society in the college’s Management Science & Innovation (MS&I) Department in response to these issues.

UCL Careers took part in a pilot Sprint programme, hosted at City University in July 2013, which encouraged female undergraduates and graduates from the MS&I department to attend and monitored feedback. This feedback was extremely encouraging, broadly themed around an improved confidence when job hunting, expanded professional and personal networks and the identification of appropriate industry mentors.

Buoyed by these positive outcomes, UCL Careers committed to running a Sprint Programme at UCL in January 2014, opening participation to any female undergraduate or graduate from UCL and City University. The university took responsibility for engaging relevant students and encouraging them to apply. It also undertook the selection of which candidates would attend, looking for applicants who demonstrated career drive, understood how the programme would help with their professional development and possessed strong communication skills.

RBS took responsibility for liaising with the Springboard Consultancy regarding the programme’s content. Participants spend three days on the course, but also commit to a follow-up date when they present back to employers to ensure their learning is embedded. RBS was also responsible for engaging other employers to act as sponsors for the programme.

Although the programme has not yet concluded, anecdotal feedback indicates that students and graduates found the programme highly beneficial. The university is keen to run the programme on campus again, and plans to meet with RBS to discuss the experiences of joint working, alongside student feedback and outcomes. There is also a keen possibility that discussions of the programme could be extended to other universities which have also hosted Sprint, in an effort to transfer learnings and share best practice. In particular, this would be particularly valuable when considering marketing and engagement strategies so as to ensure the maximum number of female undergraduates and graduates have the opportunity to participate.

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