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 will take part in 100 client projects across our team-based programme portfolio. 



Length of client project


The Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA)

Undergraduates, postgraduates

5 days

Programme runs 6x a year


We do not charge our clients. To participate, contact us at

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.

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 project.

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 taking part in real strategy-focused client challenges over a week. We will run the Oxford Strategy Challenge events six 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 participate in 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 project.

The key programme details are:

  • The student participate 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 project will take part through the weekend and teams present their recommendations 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 recommendations to their client formally as it provides a great opportunity to boost their communication and presentation skills.

2024 Dates

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

Activity and dates 





Projects scoped Project briefs from clients By Friday


26 April

By Friday


14 June

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


9 May



27 June

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


10 May



28 June

Online call when teams make presentation to their client Wednesday


15 May



3 July


Further programmes are expected to run in October and November. Contact for more information.


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


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

As the Oxford Strategy Challenge is an original programme developed by us, please attribute it 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. 

What sort of projects are you looking for?

Our student teams can help you with a strategic challenge that you may be facing within the commercial or charitable sector.

You may be looking to take your organisation in a new direction, launch a product or programme, test out a business idea, explore a potential market, refresh your branding, examine the effectiveness of your communications or assess the impact of your mission.

Our student teams can provide strategic thinking and research skills to tackle your challenge.

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!

How long should the projects last?

On our Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA) programme, students have 5 days to tackle your project. This programme is ideal for projects that can be undertaken in a short ‘sprint’. Such projects might provide the framework for strategic thinking, tackle a short research project or initiate your thinking on a particular question.

Students will be taking part in this challenge alongside their academic work and will not be spending their time exclusively on your project. However, clients are always surprised at how much the teams are able to achieve whether over the course of 5 days.

I have a project idea. What happens next?

Contact us via and we would be happy to set up a call to discuss your project idea and our different programmes.

The first step is for you to send us a brief project proposal. 

We will ask you to confirm the programme you are interested in and the dates you are available. As the number of applications to our programme fluctuates throughout the academic year we are not able to guarantee that your project will be included in the next available programme.

Once we have received your project proposal we will pass this onto the programme leader who will be able to confirm if we are able to include your project in our programmes and which programmes have availability. The course leader will firm up the remaining details with you to create a final project brief.

What are you looking for in a project proposal?

We ask you to send through:

  • A brief introduction to your organisation
  • Some context around the project idea (how this fits into your organisation; how will the teams contribute)
  • Outline the challenge you would like the students to tackle. What strategic question(s) would you like the teams help you answer?
  • What is your desired outcome?

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.

What is the expected time commitment?

We ask clients to meet with students at the start of the programme for an initial client meeting (1 hour/ 1.5 hours) and to meet with students for a final presentation when they will present their findings to you (1 hour/ 1.5 hours).

Students are also likely to want to contact you in between these meetings. We encourage teams to discuss this with their client at the initial meeting. Expect lots of enthusiasm and engagement!

Does the location of my organisation matter?

No. For clients who are not based in Oxford, teams can collaborate remotely.

I don’t have a project idea at the moment. What other options are there for connecting with Oxford students?

Some other opportunities to engage with our students include:

Contact to discuss other options, including attending a fair, hosting an employer presentation or joining the Oxford Employer Engagement Network.

The Oxford Strategy Challenge is a programme of learning and development activities for University of Oxford students. It provides employability skills training and experiential learning to students whilst at the same time providing 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 research 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 research 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 looking for client projects!

Take part in our programmes for:

  • A fresh perspective from energetic thinking partners who can collaborate with you on a current challenge.
  • Talented and enthusiastic student teams who can help you move forward with strategic opportunities.
  • The chance to help students develop their professional and personal skills.
  • The opportunity to raise the profile of your organisation with students at Oxford University.

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

The Oxford Employer Engagement Network

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.

Join the Employer Engagement Network