From breweries to endangered species: live briefs for students

Thousands of ARU students will benefit from a bold new initiative which places the university in a pioneering role in UK higher education.

ARU has launched an ambitious initiative putting students directly in touch with private, public and third sector organisations, giving them the opportunity to be involved in real-world learning experiences from the start of their university journey.

Designed to develop essential graduate skills and increase future employment opportunities, the live brief project connects ARU’s diverse student community to regional and national employer networks, while our partners get the opportunity to inject fresh, innovative ideas into their organisations and meet a potential future workforce.

“Live briefs are innovative because they are co-designed with professional partners to seamlessly fit modules across a vast range of subjects.” says Academic Employability Consultant Dr Marina Boz.

The live briefs will form a core part of the student’s course and are the result of collaboration with employers across the East of England, ranging from law firms to design studios, county councils and libraries.

“One live brief involves a brewery, for example,” Marina says. “Students from all our business courses will support the company as it develops a marketing campaign for a new product, contributing to the growth of the business.”

Another fascinating project could help save some of the UK’s much loved, but endangered species from extinction.

“Students from our Marine Biology, Zoology and Animal Behaviour courses will work with local wildlife conservation organisations to review the data and provide recommendations that address the issues affecting threatened species,” Marina says.

An example of a successful project that ran last year was with Cambridgeshire Libraries.

“Libraries are a wonderful asset to the community,” Marina says, “In Cambridgeshire, they wanted to increase the number of visitors they welcomed to their libraries. A group of our students carried out a survey about how to achieve that. We’re delighted to say the library service has welcomed some of their recommendations and intend to implement them, particularly in areas designed to increase engagement with younger library users.”

Anne Worthington, Library Development Officer at Cambridgeshire Libraries, was delighted with how the project went. "The reason that we wanted to take part in a live brief was because of the excellent opportunity to collaborate with a widely recognised, world renowned, and high performing university. We recognised that there would be benefits for both parties and in particular for the student researchers and university to develop a relationship with the local library and their communities," she said.

The opportunity was also appreciated by the students who took part.

“It was something I had never done before, different to learning theories, essays or exams. And I thought it would be something that would benefit me in terms of getting to know new people and having to interact with the public,” said student Charlotte.

Pedro, another student commented, “To do something new and different that hadn’t been done before and be a pioneer of a new project, to do more work experience in some sort of way that gives you something that stands out on your CV.”

Live briefs will be fully integrated across more than 70 courses, with projects lasting from four to ten weeks, depending on their complexity.

The initiative is a win-win for our students, and the companies and organisations they get to work with.

“We are keen to develop partnerships that are a force for good in our community in East Anglia,” says Marina. “An organisation might be keen to investigate a new business opportunity or tackle a desirable project, but not have the time or other resources to do so. Our students can support them, whilst learning about the realities of the work they do at the same time.

“It is expected that students will learn more about where they can find a fulfilling career, develop the skills employers demand and the organisation will pick up excellent new talent, which they know can make a real difference to their business as well.”

Do you have a challenge that you think our students could help you work towards solving? Find out more about live briefs.