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Real-life student learning benefits local business

At the University of Portsmouth, work placements, research and real-world settings help us offer outstanding teaching. Students can also enrich their learning through real ‘live’ projects, such as the Business Consultancy Project (BCP), run by the University’s Portsmouth Business School.

This real-life learning greatly improves student’s workplace readiness and leads to positive graduate outcomes.

The BCP unit has been running for five years and for 2017/18, 350 students from 45 nations enrolled for the unit, conducting 67 projects.

The BCP supports student learning by providing valuable opportunities to use their analysis and consultancy skills to investigate specific business challenges or opportunities on behalf of client organisations.

These projects are delivered by final-year undergraduates experiencing a live consultancy brief. This real-life learning greatly improves their workplace readiness and leads to positive graduate outcomes. This approach is innovative and directly supports both the student learning and the growth of the local business community through the delivery of ‘outside the box’ thinking from the next generation of business leaders.

The BCP involves small teams of 5 to 6 students from various business studies courses. The teams work with local organisations for about five months from mid-October to mid-March. The teams bid competitively against other teams to respond to a short project brief from clients. Once teams have been matched to their clients, the team starts the process of building the relationship with the client and launching the project.

Projects deliver clients tangible outputs, such as primary and secondary research findings, and their analysis and recommendations. Examples from past years include: setting up social media accounts, an analysis of competitor products, a draft business plan, improvements to internal processes based on interviews with staff, creating a report summarising customer views, based on primary research.

Students provide their clients with a final project presentation and written report which are key elements of their assessed work for the unit. The findings and final reports are of great value to the businesses and effect a real change in thinking as well as business operation. Sometimes, the students’ work has been of such high quality that the client can use the final report to persuade the board to make a major strategic decision. At other times, project output can be used as input to other organisational initiatives.

One BCP team has been working with Landau UK, specialists in vessel general maintenance, upgrades and annual contract maintenance projects for commercial marine, leisure, trade, workboats and commercial passenger ships of all sizes across the UK and Europe. The team assessed the effectiveness and costs of their current sales and marketing activity and helped develop a sales and marketing strategy for the next five years.

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