Three business students laughing and standing around poster at business consultancy event

Get advice to improve your business

If your business has an issue, but you don't have the time or resources to solve it, our Business Consultancy Project could be the answer

If you run a local small or medium-sized business (or a local unit of a larger organisation) in the private, public or third sector you're eligible to take part in our Business Consultancy Project (BCP).

In the Business Consultancy Project, you'll use the expertise of our students to develop your business. By putting their learning into practice, our students can help you expand your organisation, increase sales, improve your internal processes, and much more.

In previous Business Consultancy projects, students have:

  • Used marketing theory to develop social media strategies
  • Conducted competitor analysis to highlight gaps and opportunities in a business
  • Drafted sustainable business plans based on research
  • Conducted staff interviews to optimise internal business processes
  • Evaluated customer feedback to generate solutions

There's no fee for taking part in this project, as the students aren't paid for their involvement. You don't need to provide desks at your workplace either – students may visit occasionally, but they'll complete the bulk of their project work elsewhere.

You'll need to be from the local area, which normally means that your premises are in Southeast Hampshire or West Sussex, within an hour's travel by public transport from the University.

It gave us resources we didn't have, to look at problems we didn't have time to look at. So it gave us a big business opportunity for a small business environment. It brings in fresh thinking. Also, a lot of people might bring in the fact that they're so young as a disadvantage, but absolutely not. It brought in certain new energy and ideas that actually we hadn't even considered before.

Ben Metcalfe, Chief Executive of Landau UK

How the Business Consultancy Project works

You'll submit a project brief to us and our business students (in teams of 3-4) will submit a bid to complete it. They'll work on the project from October to January for 10 hours per week, per student – with a team of 4, that’s 40 hours total each week for about 16 weeks.

Within their project teams, we encourage students to work in sub-groups, to make the most of their time and skills. Our skilled and experienced academic tutors also support the student teams.

You'll receive a handbook when you begin the project and get the chance to attend an information day.

There's an annual awards and networking event held after the completion of all student projects for that year. During the event, we'll celebrate the contributions of the businesses that took part, and the achievements of our students.

The consultancy process

The Business Consultancy Project usually follows the process below:

  • Start-up
  • Project design
  • Analysis and research
  • Solutions development
  • Recommendations development
  • Final presentation of results

Throughout this process, we encourage our students to experiment, try out solutions and take an iterative approach to your project.

Promoting sustainability is a central theme in the University's strategy. So we also want all students taking part in the Business Consultancy Project to find solutions for you that contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the circular economy.

Skills the students can bring to your business

In their first year, each student will have learned the basics of marketing, accounting, HR, operations, quantitative methods and economics. In the second year and final years, students will have specialised in different subjects depending on the modules they've chosen to study. We recommend you ask the students what their skills and strengths are, to ensure the project makes good use of their abilities.

Students on any of the following courses can take part in the Business Consultancy Project:

Supporting your student team

For most students, this is the first time they will have taken on a consulting project, so any help and advice from you in running the project is welcome. You'll have a key role in inspiring the team through sharing your own experiences and any suggestions as to how the team can improve.

It's important to remember that students are expecting to learn and work as consultants, not as an extra resource to carry out day-to-day work. You should allow your student team to use their creativity to explore new avenues, including those that challenge the assumptions of the organisation and client.

To get the most out of a project, communication between you and your student team is essential, both face-to-face and online. You'll want to introduce your student team to the staff members they'll work with and provide them with any additional resources and contacts they need.

It's also useful to allocate time to meet with your student team. We recommend meeting your student team once a week for an update on the project and to determine the next stages. You’ll need to plan in time to respond to queries and teams will often produce interim solutions that you can consider implementing.

You'll need to attend the team’s end-of-project presentation to hear and give feedback on the their final recommendations. You're not required to formally mark this presentation, but your feedback as a client will be gladly accepted. You can invite any other interested parties to this presentation.

Examples of past projects

The BCP has been running for several years, giving hundreds of clients the benefit of a fresh set of minds to find practical solutions to business challenges.

For the 2019-2020 academic year, 36 business consultancy projects were run between September and December, with 140 students from more than 30 nations participating.

Previously, students have worked on the following projects:

Past projects

Developing options for Santander for better use of their banking halls for community financial education.

Creating a strategy for Inovolt, a local facilities management firm, to improve marketing, including changes to key messages and their social media platforms.

Helping a startup, the Instant Kitchen Company, to find ways to grow their customer base, with a plan for new product offerings.

Recommending improvements to mental health services offered by Solent Recovery College, focusing on how an app can meet customer needs and potentially scale up nationally.

Proposing new sustainable funding routes for Express FM, one of UK’s most innovative local radio stations.

Dates for 2021/22

  • Thursday 16 September 2021: 10.00am or 2.30pm client briefing event (online) for all clients accepted onto BCP
  • Monday 11 October: Term starts
  • Friday 10 December: Term ends
  • Tuesday 4 January: Term starts
  • Week commencing 10 January: Final Presentations by each team to their client and tutor (online or at the University).
  • Tuesday 25 January: Showcase online event 10.00am to 11.00am

Offer a Business Consultancy Project

Applications for projects beginning in October 2021 are now closed. Thank you for your interest. The Small Business team always welcome contact via

If you’re interested in offering a project in your business, please complete the online application form. In order to fill out the form, you’ll need to prepare the following information: 

  1. The business issue, need or challenge the project seeks to address
  2. How the project relates to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 
  3. Contact details for someone in your organisation who can act as the secondary point of contact if you’re not available

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