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What is Inspiring Futures?

The University of Chester has an Access and Participation Plan in place which sets out our commitment to the Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England, to provide under-represented groups with equal opportunities to access, succeed and progress from higher education, by eliminating inequalities and therefore achieving successful and rewarding careers. 

Inspiring Futures is an exclusive programme of additional careers related activities and support, provided by Careers and Employability, Student Futures, which is available to current full time and part-time undergraduate, home-fee paying students from under-represented groups.  Inspiring Futures has been established to address the particular needs of these students, supporting them to achieve lifelong success.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible to apply for careers related activities and support through Inspiring Futures, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be in receipt of the University of Chester Bursary or Care Leaver Bursary
  • Be in receipt of the Sanctuary Scholarship or the Estranged Students Support Package
  • Be a Young Carer
  • Have a declared disability
  • Be a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) student
  • Have a postcode which fits into a POLAR 4 Quintile 1 or 2

What’s involved?

Inspiring Futures enables eligible students to get involved in:

  • Industry Insights - an opportunity to get involved in a programme of visits, physically or virtually, to local and national employers. By participating you will:
    • develop your knowledge and understanding of different industry sectors
    • gain a greater awareness of employers' recruitment and selection processes
    • increase your confidence and success when applying for graduate roles
  • Assessment Centre Simulation - an opportunity to take part in an assessment centre day, physically or virtually, and to gain a Level 3 AQA accreditation in Employability Skills.  By participating you will:
    • gain a greater awareness and understanding of assessment centre processes and activities
    • increase your confidence in your ability to perform effectively at assessment centres
    • develop your confidence and success when applying for internship opportunities or graduate roles

Participating in Industry Insights or an Assessment Centre Simulation will contribute towards The Chester Difference Award


  • Inspiring Futures Internships - an opportunity for current students from under-represented groups to undertake a 175-hour paid (£9 per hour) internship opportunity, physically or virtually, within a non-profit organisation, social enterprise or charity. By participating you will:
    • be provided with application and interview support in order to increase the success of your internship application
    • increase your knowledge and understanding of different industry sectors and job roles to aid future career planning and decision making
    • develop your confidence and increase your success when applying for graduate roles in the future


  • The​ Employability Fund - an opportunity for under-represented groups to apply for funding for activities or items that will help them to improve their employability, develop their skills and experience and gain access to opportunities that a lack of funding may be stopping them from taking. There are two funding streams - The Futures Employability Fund (up to £500) and the Santander Fund (£500-£1000).

    There are two funding streams:

    Futures Employability Fund​ - ​​​​

    • Students can apply for funding up to a maximum of £500.
    • Students who submit a successful application which is less than £500 can make numerous applications to the fund up to the maximum total award value of £500.
    • Once a student reaches this limit they will not be permitted to apply again in the current academic year.


    The Santander Fund -

    • Students can apply for funding between £501-£1000.
    • Students can only apply for this award once.
    • This funding has been generously provided by Santander to extend our OfS Funding Stream, for the remaining academic year 2020-21.

    Students must indicate the level of funding required in their application as this will determine which funding stream is to be used. Students cannot be awarded funding from both funding streams within the same month.

    Students can only submit one application for one funding award, per month.

    Students who have already received funding of between £501-£1000 can only continue to apply for awards of less than £500 (up to a cumulative maximum of £500) thereafter.

    Students who have received awards of £500 or less can either continue to apply for awards of less than £500 or apply for one-off funding of £501-£1000 thereafter.

    Once a student has received the maximum Futures Employability Fund award of £500 and 1 award from Santander of between £501 and £1000 they are no longer able to apply to either fund for the remainder of the academic year.

    Total amount of overall f​​​​​unding that can be awarded per student per academic year is £1,500. A total of £1,000 from Santander and £500 from The Futures Employability Fund.

    Examples of what can be applied for include:

    • Professional Development 
      • Digital marketing courses
      • Sports coaching qualifications - e.g. NVQ, CYO or similar health or fitness instruction, National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, FA coaching qualification etc.
      • Language courses
      • First Aid qualifications
      • Conference/events attendance
      • Membership of professional bodies
    • Specialist Equipment
      • Software subscriptions
      • Archaeological tools
      • Photography equipment
      • Creative performance equipment
    • Career Development Expenses
      • Travel expenses
      • Interview clothes (up to a maximum of £120) - evidence of invitation to interview is required to be submitted with the application form
      • Accommodation expenses for placements away from home/campus
      • Appropriate smart clothes/uniform etc. if not provided for a work placement
      • Specialist equipment needed for placement

    NB: ​If you are awarded the funds generously provided by Santander you will need to register on a separate platform to continue the process. ​Click here to apply now

    • The Santander Entrepreneurship Fund (SEF) - an opportunity for students from under-represented groups to carry out activities, purchase items or gain office space to enhance their enterprise skills, to help build their freelance career or to help them to start up a business.  The fund is non-repayable, with a maximum award of £250 per person.  To apply for funding through the SEF click here

    For successful recipients of office space, due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, residency within INDUSTRY Coworking may be postponed until it is safe to go ahead.

    To access a 15-minute bookable appointment to discuss any activity in the Inspiring Futures Programme click here

    • Guidance Appointments - an opportunity to chat to a Career Consultant for 45 minutes about career, study or self-employment ideas whether you have a clear career path in mind or not. We can help you explore options and make the right choices. This could involve meeting with a named Career Consultant each time (please note this will be arranged wherever possible, however this may result in a slight delay in you being seen). Click here to book an appointment
    • Career Chats - an opportunity to chat to a Career Consultant for 15 minutes to discuss any careers-related query you have.  This may include how to start thinking about career ideas, gaining work experience, CVs, personal statements, applications, interviews and further study. Click here to book an appointment
  • The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) - an industry recognised qualification designed specifically for those who:
    • want to gain a basic qualification in computing
    • wish to demonstrate their competence in computer skills in their current position or to develop their skills in order to enhance their career prospects 
    • would like to undertake an IT qualification for general interest
  • Key benefits for gaining the ECDL qualification include:
    • raising your general level of competency in IT and computer skills
    • improving your productivity at home and at work
    • providing you with an industry recognised qualification
    • enhancing your employment prospects

To get a feel for what the ECDL involves you can review the training materials for each module via the LIS pages on Portal.

The options available to you for gaining the ECDL qualification include:

  • signing up to one of our 15-week training courses.  These courses are two hours per week and cover all of the seven modules, including tests, (recommended for IT beginners)

NB: please note current students should contact the IT Training Team directly to book onto the 15-week course.  Please view the timetable, to see when sessions are running, via the LIS pages on Portal.  You will need to state which group you would like to join, however please be aware that places are limited so you may not be granted your first choice of group.

  • accessing the modules that you require further training in and sitting the tests when able (recommended for IT intermediate users)
  • signing up to sit the tests only (recommended for IT advanced users)

For questions, more information or to express an interest in starting the ECDL qualification, please contact the IT Training Team by emailing

Completing the ECDL will contribute towards The Chester Difference Award.

As a precautionary measure LIS will suspend all current ECDL and Advanced ECDL training courses, including resits for the foreseeable future, due to COVID-19.

You can study ECDL online, but you would need to come over to CLRB 21 to take your test as we offer manual testing only.

We apologise for the inconvenience, and will be in touch when we have a revised timetable, which we hope will be in the not too distant future.

  • LinkedIn Learning is a leading online learning platform that helps anyone learn and develop skills and competencies across a wide range of areas (e.g. business & professional, digital and technical, creative & software) in order to achieve your personal and professional goals. Explore over 15,000 video tutorials from industry experts and leaders. LinkedIn Learning is available to all University of Chester students for free.  More information can be found here 
  • ASPIRE Fund- an opportunity for new full time Level 4 home undergraduate students (paying a tuition fee of over £6,000) and for continuing students at Level 4 whose programme has included a Foundation Year, who have a means tested household income of less that £25,000.  The fund is non-repayable, with a maximum award of £100 per person.  To apply to the ASPIRE Fund click here

Not sure if you are eligible?  Email

Additional Resources

If you’re a disabled student or graduate looking for support in finding a job, you can contact Scope by calling 0300 222 5742 or by emailing ​

Careers and Employability work with MyPlus Students’ Club and EmployAbility two organisations who support students and graduates with disabilities with the transition from education to employment through work experience, job opportunities and advice.  This enables you to confidently navigate the recruitment process at a range of top employers and organisations.

Contact Information

Inspiring Futures - Careers and Employability