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Projects without borders: Understanding how employer-led UG projects differ across the STEM disciplines

Lead Institution: University of Exeter
Collaborating with: Bournemouth University

This is a sub-project of Get STEM working: innovation with employer and student engagement


Many of the disciplines within the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter run some kind of UG project accounting for a substantial proportion of a students’ penultimate or final year.  These projects take many forms, from short pieces of mostly academic interest investigations to full multi-discipline multi-person industry-led and involved developments. 

The outputs from this sub-project will mean that the College will change its student projects and the way in which it engages with employers and prospective employers particularly those who are interested in some form of student project engagement.  The toolkit will also be used prior to starting any new projects within new programmes currently being planned and which might be planned in the future.   This will be very useful because it will help clarify what the best way to work with different types of employers is given different types of student projects in different disciplines.  It will also help to hook into those employers and gain improved feedback for other material within UG and PGT programmes.

The same outputs will assist the HE sector at large. There is unlikely to be one right way for institutions to engage with employers in relation to UG student projects, but there are likely to be a number of better ways and worse ways, so by defining a measure of assessment of engagement techniques within projects, the College can help more institutions get more out of their employer-led and employer-engaged activities. 

Aims & Objectives

  • Compare and contrast the different types of employer-led UG projects currently running at the University, both across the STEM disciplines and within engineering specifically where there are a number of types of student project which involve industry
  • Build a suitable analysis technique that enables any style of project to be tested against a framework  to judge how well it relates to the identified best practice
  • Make recommendations about the potential barriers between different types of projects and employer-led involvement and how to avoid and overcome these barriers
  • Use live data from our current years’ cohort to understand what the pros and cons are to the different types of projects and what effect this has on the potential employability of our students

Staff involved

Dr Barrie Cooper
Project lead, University of Exeter

Abel Nyamapfene
Project coordinator, University of Exeter

Chloe Cunningham
University of Exeter

Christine Keenan
Bournemouth University

Dawn Evans
University of Exeter

Penny Mitchell
Bournemouth University