Earlier this year, a study by Oxford Economics uncovered that international students contribute more than £25 million a year to the UK economy. Data showed how off-campus spending alone bolstered national industries like transport and retail by as much as £5 billion, which in turn spurred regional growth, making jobs far more rewarding and accessible to both national and global applicants.
It’s a privilege to have access to such a culturally-rich, dedicated pool of talent, and UK universities are doing everything they can to significantly boost the prospects of ambitious international candidates. The University of Central Lancashire, or UCLan as it is fondly known, is a sterling example of that, heavily investing time, money, resources and expertise in its international population.
UCLan is a well-known provider of career-focused education, giving students the tools needed to thrive on the global stage. Through the unique opportunity to pursue a work experience placement or study a semester abroad in Europe or the USA, plus the unrivalled chance to learn a language completely free of charge while you study, UCLan students leave readily instilled with the universal outlook that proves so valuable in a society that’s as competitive as it is connected.
The university’s School of Physical Sciences and Computing is particularly adept when it comes to matching students to their most suited placements – especially in the field of Computing.
Lucy Myers, for example, was originally enrolled on the UCLan’s Software Engineering programme, but after realising her future was set upon a role working for the police, the unique flexibility offered by the school allowed her to switch to a course in Forensic Computing.
Now a third-year student, Myers recently completed a year-long placement with industry giant Ernst & Young, a company she impressed so much that she was offered a full-time position to take up upon graduation.
“On placement I worked through every aspect on the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model) on a daily basis, from gathering and processing evidence, to providing review support such as log ins for the clients to access the review platform,” she says.
“I also provided a lot of client support which involved communicating with the clients about what kind of information they wanted to see, and producing reports to reflect this,” adds Myers.
“I’ve now received an offer to return as an experience hire and I’ll be going back as an associate because I now have experience. This is not a graduate scheme, which is nice, as I will be straight back in to doing what I know from day one and it is all providing I get a 2:1.”
But by no means is Myers the only student reaping the fruits of UCLan’s unparalleled placement opportunities, with another Software Engineering student landing a place on technology and management juggernaut Accenture’s graduate scheme, an achievement made possible through an internship initially set up by UCLan.
“I received recognition from the delivery team, saying they would not have been able to keep to their deadlines had I not been able to assist them and act as their intermediary,” says Simon O’Donoghue, a current third-year student.
“This is an excellent step onto the career ladder with plenty of opportunity. Furthermore, working for such an established, global organisation looks great on my CV.”
At the start of the internship period, O’Donoghue performed the duties of a software engineer, but specifics meant he was functioning more from the perspective of a business analyst. Here, the student became heavily involved in a major project that saw Accenture compete to produce a national IT system for the newly formed Police Scotland.
O’Donoghue soon made his mark and earned a role with greater responsibility, eventually granting him the capacity to advise on the functionality of the new system.
“I was involved in major decisions that would impact the delivery of the project and making those judgements improved [the] decision making skills that I have applied in life inside and outside of university,” he explains.
“Placement isn’t just about what it gives your future career and final year at university, it enables you to discover more about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses.”
And with a fellow UCLan student being named the best coder in the country, it’s clear that Computing graduates are a real asset to the school.
The student’s Star Wrangler Arena game, which was put together in just four weeks, took home the trophy, securing Hobdey’s spotlight in front of the panel of five high-level leading industry judges. As part of his prize package, Hobdey will receive an interview for a job or internship with one of the competition’s UK studio partners. His story highlights UCLan’s support and dedication when it comes to granting students access to real-world client projects, and how the opportunity ensures they begin working life with the best possible employment prospects.
Another competition UCLan encourages students to take on is the Technology Challenge run by Barclays and the BBC.
This year, participating students were asked to devise a proposal for the delivery of an augmented, virtual reality (VR) application that uses emerging technology and specifically targets customers of Barclays Bank. UCLan’s strong group of eight Games Development and Web Design students came a notable third, impressing the panel with their innovative outline for an app that allows users to remotely set up a student bank account.
“I am very proud of our students, they received excellent feedback from the judges and were commended on the quality of their work and their professional approach.” says Nicky Danino, UCLan Senior Lecturer at the School of Physical Sciences and Computing.
“They have all enjoyed the process and learnt a lot from the experience, I have no doubt that they will all be able to get excellent graduate jobs.” Danino concludes.
These contemporary and professionally-focused opportunities equip UCLan’s Computing graduates with the expertise needed to take their dreams to elevated heights, perfectly blending elite academic study with real-world practice to offer a learning experience that is truly unforgettable.