News release: Students provide boost for North West businesses

Media and Promotion Office (2003) News release: Students provide boost for North West businesses. Other. University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

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Clients from Manchester to Carlisle are snapping up work from a firm of communications
consultants, staffed by final year university students from Preston. Around 20 organisations
in the North West, including legal practices, local authorities, the NHS and defence
contractors, have already been won over to the new scheme, the first of its kind in the UK.
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
'By integrating a real agency into their final year we will effectively be preparing secondjobbers
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 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
perAlthough 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 aPR agency.'
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.
6 August 2003
Note: For more information about UK Progress call the agency director Paul Elmer on
07714 105095.iods.

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