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An urgent need for a database that would help Deva English meet its growing demand was ably met by software engineering students from the University of Chester.

The English language school, based in Christleton, provides language tuition and accommodation for short stay overseas students visiting the North West of the UK.

Due to the fast expansion of the company, Deva English identified a pressing need for bespoke software to accommodate its rapid growth and enable further business development.

The company’s team needed something that would allow staff to quickly match around 10,000 overseas students coming to Chester with host families from across the area, but couldn’t find a suitable ‘off-the-shelf’ software product that would enable them to do this.

Which is where the University’s Business Engagement Team was able to offer support by linking the business with five Computer Science and Software Engineering students from the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Supervised by their tutors, a project was set up where students George Pears, Faruk Awofeso, Christy Sunny, Daniel Wheel and Daniel Dinkov created a system with great promise.

As the initial phase of the project took place between April to June – during the UK’s first lockdown – the group worked collectively through Microsoft Teams to create a system that would meet Deva English’s goals.

They consolidated the company’s use of a dozen Excel spreadsheets and Content Relationship Management (CRM) software and delivered over and above the predicted improvements to productivity in the business.

Susan Jones said: “The students went over and above the predicted significant improvement in efficiency in our business. This also boosted our morale at a time when it was difficult to see a future for the business due to the drastic turndown in international tourism. The students kept us positive.”

Following the three-month placement, the Inspiring Futures provided Deva English with a grant to support three of the students as interns to complete the project, one of which was third-year computer science student, George Pears.

Deva English have since kept George on, part time, working on the data base created in the summer.

Susan added: “We were delighted with how the whole team took on board our requirements and the intricacies of our business process. They designed a system which fully addressed these and created something that is comprehensive, practical, and easy to use.

“The team showed great organisational and interpersonal skills, they adapted their presentation using non-technical language, and showed attention to detail, making themselves available to thoroughly address the most complex aspects of the project in follow-up meetings or emails.

“Aside from their technical skills, we felt they had a sense of responsibility and commitment to the project. Their excellent understanding of our needs made the process smooth and enjoyable.

“We are so grateful for this opportunity – the students gave us a huge morale boost during an extremely uncertain period for our business. We feel incredibly fortunate to have collaborated with them.”

Deva English are set to take on another 5 students from Experiential Learning on a new project which will be led by George Pears.

Help is available from our team of Business Engagement Managers and access is also available to facilities at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science ParkRiverside Innovation Centre and the NoWFOOD Centre

If you are a business seeking access to facilities and expert growth support, contact the University of Chester’s Business Growth Team by emailing