A two-way street: Grateful business ‘gives back’ to students

Tue 13 April, 2021
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Study Active, one of the UK’s leading providers of personal training and fitness instructor qualifications, has celebrated its fifth year of working in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire.

Study ActiveInitially benefiting from business support provided by Bedfordshire in 2017 via the EU-funded Innovation Bridges programme, Study Active has since continued to actively contribute to the skillset and learning of undergraduate students from the University’s Business School through offering practical assignments.

Through Innovation Bridges, Dr Saira Sultana – Lecturer in Strategic Management – provided consultancy to address Study Active’s business strategy and processes. As part of the assignment, Dr Sultana undertook a competitor analysis which the company’s Managing Director, James Luscombe, says immediately impacted their customer response strategy.

Following the initial project, which was funded by Innovation Bridges for 20 hours, Dr Sultana presented Study Active with the opportunity to engage with her students. By receiving further, fee-free business assistance through a student resource pool, the company was able to offer students the chance to put their training to real-life practise. This cost-effective experience also formed a valuable part of the students’ degree modules.

James Luscombe commented: “It was a great opportunity to receive help from young minds that was supervised and based on solid academic theory. With the expertise of Dr Sultana’s students, we soon found that Study Active trainingwe were dealing with up-and-coming professionals who possessed skills in business, marketing and strategy, which was exactly what we required.

“This project has inspired me to look at different avenues to maintain and improve our competitive advantage and to help the business grow. I am thankful to the University of Bedfordshire Business School for their passion and hard work, and we hope it has been as productive for them as it has been for us.”

Following the success of this working partnership with the Business School and its students, Study Active has maintained a close relationship with the University of Bedfordshire over the past five years. The company has taken part in a number of different projects offered by the University’s Innovation & Enterprise Service (IES) – including Innovation Bridges, ALPHAS and Time2Grow – which have contributed to the improvement of the company’s website and customer journey.

As well as offering student participation and knowledge exchange, these funded IES projects provide growth opportunities for businesses through providing them with access to academic expertise, innovative research, and capital and revenue grants. IES is also able to fund and provide the businesses with a skilled University of Bedfordshire graduate intern, many of whom are successfully hired by the company as a full time member of its workforce.

Dr Saira SultanaDiscussing the benefits this project has brought about for her students, Dr Sultana said: “These projects have focused on Study Active’s exposure needs and so the experience has enhanced our students’ capabilities to deal with this business requirement efficiently. Students have been able to distinguish the difference between the complex realities of the classroom, the theoretical principles taught in the curriculum and how theoretical underpinnings helps to solve real-life company issues.

“It has also helped the students in making connections in the industry which could benefit their future career progression.”

Postgraduate student, Farzana Choudhury, who is studying International Human Resource Management MSc, said: “I found this opportunity to be really invaluable to my learning and experience, as it was a real company which needed creative thinking. Study Active outlined the project’s requirements, which made the process clear.”

Another postgraduate student, Harmony Chioma Ogbulogo, who is studying Information Systems Management MSc, added: “It was a very interesting project to be involved in because I was able to analyse a real-life business. The experience has been very useful for future projects.”

As a direct outcome of working with the University of Bedfordshire, Study Active has seen an almost immediate impact with improved customer visibility and online presence as well as a commendable social media reach. The company plans to partake in future projects with both IES and the Business School, hoping their participation will continue to let them ‘give back’ to the community by utilising the University’s home-grown talent and academic support.

A full evaluation of the work the University has so far conducted with Study Active can be read here.

As a leader in expanding educational opportunity for first generation university students and those coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds, the University of Bedfordshire’s Research & Knowledge Exchange sits at the heart of the institution’s commitment to making significant contributions to the local community and national economy.

With professional support and expertise from the University of Bedfordshire Business School, the Innovation & Enterprise Service provides a key service for the local economic and business communities, as well as initiating impactful research, non-profit funding opportunities and collaborations between organisations and academics – both for the benefit of the business and the University’s students.

Businesses interested in discussing opportunities for funding, support or consultancy can register online: www.beds.ac.uk/ies/we-mean-business/tell-us-what-help-you-need/

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