News release: Preston pioneers new student experience

Media and Promotion Office (2003) News release: Preston pioneers new student experience. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

[thumbnail of Scan of paper copy]
PDF (Scan of paper copy) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.


Official URL:


Public relations students from Preston are set to operate aPR agency as part of their
undergraduate degrees, the first time that a project of its type has been attempted in the
The agency, UK Progress, will be run by final year public relations students working
from an office at the University of Central Lancashire. The student consultants will
practice under supervision and will be assessed on the quality of their work as part of
their degree.
'Our public relations graduates already have an enviable academic reputation, but this
project will really demonstrate that they are capable of applying their knowledge at the
very sharp end of consultancy practice, in projects deliberately chosen for the
challenges they bring,' says Paul Elmer, Director of UK Progress and a senior lecturer in
Applied Communication.
'By integrating a real agency into their final year we will effectively be preparing
second-jobbers for the marketplace,' he says. The idea is simple enough: we are taking
the principle of work experience, and adding to it the quality control and rigorous
assessment that has won Preston it's leading position in PR education. The end result is
a work experience that delivers more learning to the students, more skill to the clients,
and really shows some leadership in the north-west.'
Clients pay a fixed fee of £2k that helps offset the costs of enhanced IT, office space
and expenses such as travel. UK Progress will operate as a full-time agency during the
academic year, with student teams using mobile technology including a fully wireless
computer network and university-provided mobile phones in order to maintain a
constant service without the need for a full suite of offices - a move designed to cope
with varying volumes of work, with the potential for more than 100 student consultants
working at peak periods.
UK Progress will complete project-based consultancy across an initial client portfolio
that spans major public sector accounts, manufacturers and legal and medical sectors.
Student teams will specialise in soundly-researched strategic communication, and will
develop tactical solutions that include publishing.
Although the first clients are mainly large organisations, UK Progress aims to develop
its work to help charities and new businesses across the NW region. We have set the
cost low enough to encourage take-up in sectors where conventional consultancy is
simply too expensive for most organisations,' says Elmer. 'But what we are finding this
year is that big organisations which are used to engaging consultants are snapping up
work- we may even have to run a waiting list, which is quite some going for a
communications consultancy that is six weeks from launch.'
The main drive this year has been in specially targeted sectors, ones where we know
that students will get a challenge,' says Elmer. 'But I want to see our client list grow to
include the charity and SME areas, where we can help build a better society and help
organisations to innovate, and we are already partnering a similar student consultancy
that has been operating in Utrecht for some years, so we hope to offer some students
experience in international consultancy, too.'
Lectures and seminars are replaced with team meetings where student teams draw on
the support and knowledge of a senior consultant, able to guide their developing
practice, supplementing their formal learning on subjects such as applied research and
strategy. Senior consultants, who are specially selected from the lecturing staff for their
consultancy experience and practice, add the experience of applying that knowledge at
the sharp end, and of dealing with clients, in addition to more traditional teaching roles
such as directing students towards books and other learning resources.
7 August 2003
Note: For more information about UK Progress call the agency director Paul Elmer on
07714 105095.

Repository Staff Only: item control page