Partnerships in the Community

Oxford University's students may be able to help you!

We support organisations through our innovative learning and consulting experience programmes for University of Oxford students. Over the coming year around 750 students work will work on 100 client projects across our team-based programme portfolio. 

Our clients are diverse: businesses, charities, community organisations, local authority departments, arts and cultural institutions. They say that they benefit from the enthusiasm, creativity and fresh ideas that our student teams bring to a challenge. They enjoy sharing their specific areas of expertise and get real value from the support.



Length of client project


The Oxford Strategy Challenge

Undergraduates, postgraduates, 

5 days

Programme runs monthly (apart from Oct and Dec)

The Student Consultancy

Undergraduates and postgraduates who have completed the Oxford Strategy Challenge

8-9 weeks

18 January – 10 March

The Researcher Strategy Consultancy Postdocs and early career researchers 12 weeks 04 March - 10 June


We do not charge our clients. The students volunteer for our programmes and use the experience to boost and demonstrate their employability skills.

For our student participants, our aim is to provide opportunities for participants to boost and demonstrate key employment skills: team working, business awareness, communication, initiative, creativity, planning, leadership and self-management.

Every element of the delivery will present a learning opportunity for our participants. The Careers Service will run an assessment process with an online selection exercise before participants progress to training sessions to prepare them for their client project work.

The students that worked on COCO’s project through the Oxford Strategy Consultancy were extremely impressive. In a very short space of time, they researched extensively and produced recommendations that we would have expected from a charity consultant with many more years’ experience. The students demonstrated passion and enthusiasm, worked together as a team and used their skill sets and interests to ask difficult questions. The results produced tangible suggestions to assist COCO with the development of our social impact process. I would highly recommend this programme and hope to use it again in the future.

Lucy Kendall – Chief Executive Officer

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The Oxford Strategy Challenge is a team-based experiential learning event with participants working on real strategy-focused client challenges over a week. We will run the Oxford Strategy Challenge events ten times a year. Our aim is to provide opportunities for participants to boost and demonstrate key employment skills: team working, business awareness, communication, initiative, creativity, planning, leadership and self-management. We do not charge our clients. The students volunteer for our programmes and use the experience to boost and demonstrate their employability skills.

How the Oxford Strategy Challenge works

Every element of the delivery will present a learning opportunity for our participants. The Careers Service will run an assessment process with an online selection exercise before participants progress to training sessions to prepare them for their client project work.

The key programme details are:

  • The student participants work in teams of four
  • Two teams will be assigned to each client challenge. Although it is not a formal competition (everyone is a winner!) this format encourages participants to shine
  •  The client relationship will start with a pre-booked online briefing call on the Thursday and the teams will work through the weekend and present their work on the following Wednesday during a pre-booked online presentation call.

Prior to launching a project, we scope an outline of the challenge with the client. The teams will be provided with this and liaise directly with the client over the period of the project. We provide mentoring support to help the teams work through any general or technical queries that may arise.

We encourage our teams to present their work to their client formally as it provides a great opportunity to boost their communication and presentation skills.

2021 - 2022 Dates

We will run the Oxford Strategy Challenge at the end of the month and the confirmed activity dates are as follows:

Activity and dates 









Projects scoped Project briefs from clients By Tuesday


18 January

By Tuesday


15 February

By Tuesday


22 March

By Tuesday


26 April

Project work ‘Meet the client’ online briefing call for teams Thursday


27 January



24 February



31 March



5 May 

Client available for ‘check-in’ calls/email queries Friday


28 January



25 February



1 April



6 May

Online call when teams make presentation to their client Wednesday


2 February



2 March



6 April



11 May


This is a follow-on experience for undergraduates and postgraduates who have participated in the Oxford Strategy Challenge and seek another, richer challenge and experience.

The teams work over 6-7 weeks on their project and this programme is ideal for projects with a wider scope as there is more time for market research and strategic thinking.

Since the programme launched, nearly 2,000 students have now taken on projects, helping over 250 local organisations. 

We will launch our next Student Consultancy programme in January with projects completed at the start of March.

We are looking for client projects

If you are interested and would like to know more, please contact us at

What does a good project look like? 

For all our programmes a good project will have some element of research and a requirement for our team to make recommendations on the right strategy for you to take forward. It will have a defined scope and can realistically be delivered in the time available. But most of all, it must be important to our client: we like our teams to make a real impact!

What does a good client look like? 

 A good client is interested in nurturing talent for the future and providing our participants with a real-world experience. They are open to an external perspective on their challenge, are committed to the project and have time available to work with our team and provide direction when necessary.

Terms and Conditions

The Oxford Strategy Challenge, the Student Consultancy, and the Researcher Strategy Consultancy are programmes of learning and development activities for University of Oxford students. They provide employability skills training and work-based experiences to students whilst at the same time giving free consultancy to local businesses, charities and community organisations (Clients).

After an initial induction period facilitated by the University of Oxford Careers Service, teams of students undertake short, limited scope projects for Clients. Whilst, of course, the University will do what it can to structure and operate this programme efficiently, it will be appreciated that neither the University nor the student participants will owe any duty of care to Clients; or accept any responsibility for the work undertaken or the advice given in the course of what is a free and amateur service. All liability is therefore disclaimed, to the maximum extent permitted by law. In particular:

  1. The University and the students do not warrant the accuracy of any information, written or spoken, provide by the student teams, and Clients should not rely on its accuracy to make decisions.
  2. Project teams do not have, or hold themselves out to have, specialist or expert knowledge.
  3. In general, teams should not be expected to spend much time on a client’s site; however, if they do, then the health and safety responsibility rests with the Client.
  4. No commitment can be made as to the amount of time students can or will spend on a project as it is understood that this work has to be fitted around their academic obligations that take first priority. Clients and teams will be expected to clarify timing and scope at the start and from time to time during the project.

The students will own the copyright in their reports, but each Client will have a free, irrecoverable, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use each report which it commissions, for the purpose of the Client’s operations.

The Careers Service reserves the right to decline a project opportunity on the basis of suitability for our programmes.

We are always delighted to read about organisations' and students' experiences on our programmes.


When mentioning your work with us and our student volunteers, please refer to our programme names in full as 'the Oxford Strategy Challenge' and 'the Student Consultancy programme'. 

As the Oxford Strategy Challenge and the Student Consultancy are original programmes developed by us, please attribute them to the Careers Service, University of Oxford in your communications; for example: 'The Oxford Strategy Challenge is a programme run by the Careers Service, University of Oxford'.

Social media

As you are creating posts about the programmes on your social media channels, please tag or mention the Careers Service, University of Oxford, on LinkedIn @Oxford_Careers, or on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook @OxfordCareers.

Press releases

If your organisation is preparing a press release for the end of the programme, please get in touch with us at The University of Oxford and Careers Service communications teams will review the press releases on an individual basis for accuracy. Please note that our internal review process can take a while, so do send us a copy as soon as possible. 

The Oxford Recruiters' Group

For those employers who wish to gain advantageous recruiting insights, make their recruiting efforts more efficient and are looking to attract students with enhanced promotion.