Can you create a better future?
The Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to work on a topic that excites you. As part of a team, you will develop your own unique solution to a real-world issue and gain invaluable experience and skills for your future career.
The Vice-Chancellor's Challenge 2022 has now concluded, and it was a fantastic competition with many great solutions generated. If you are a student interested in joining the Vice-Chancellor's Challenge next year or a staff member interested in becoming an academic mentor, please drop us an email - we'd love to hear from you.
Who is eligible?
The Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge is open to all undergraduate students from second year onwards and to postgraduate taught students. To ensure as many students as possible can benefit from the opportunity, the Challenge is not open to students who have participated in previous years. If you’re not sure whether you’ll be eligible, just ask.
What does the Vice-Chancellor's Challenge involve, and why should I take part?
If you join the Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge, you will:
- Work in a team with students in other subject areas across the University to address an issue of your choosing under a theme set by the Vice-Chancellor. Previous themes have included 'Powering the Post-Covid Recovery', 'Happiness' and 'Making Birmingham Better', with groups choosing to tackle issues including homelessness, mental health, cultural integration, transport and many more. The theme in 2022 was 'Seeking Solutions to Global Challenges'.
- Translate your idea into a compelling and engaging 4-minute video
- Grow your skills under the guidance of academic mentors and business leaders, as you develop your solution and your business model
- Challenge yourself by presenting and debating your proposals with the Vice-Chancellor and other senior University leaders
- Develop unique employability skills, including access to exclusive workshops and training sessions on presentation skills, critical thinking and developing a business case
- Develop media and film production skills with training from the University’s Creative Media team
- Collect Personal Skills Award (PSA) points and have your achievement recognised on your academic transcript at the end of your degree
You can also take a look at the videos produced by our previous finalists, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.
When is the Vice-Chancellor's Challenge, and how much time will I need to put in?
The Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge starts each year in late-January and ends in late-March. You’ll typically have one activity you need to attend each week. Over the course of the competition, three or four of these will be larger workshops or training sessions lasting between two and four hours, while the rest will be shorter consultation meetings, usually with your academic mentor or a business representative, lasting between 30 minutes and an hour. These activities will mainly take place on Wednesday afternoons, so please be aware of your academic commitments, and consider whether you can balance the two, before deciding to participate in the Challenge.
Outside of the scheduled activities, you’ll need to put in at least an hour a week working on your idea and your video with your group. Please note, it is expected that sessions will be a mix of online and in-person, and it is expected that you attend both.
What makes a good idea?
The judging panel is looking for an idea that is:
- novel and innovative – something that no one has tried before, or that brings a unique twist to an existing idea;
- grounded in evidence and research – there is reliable evidence to suggest that the idea could work, even if it hasn’t been tested yet;
- practical, feasible, and with a workable business model – even if your idea is unlikely to generate income, it is clear how public or charitable funding could be secured; and
- communicated with clarity – both in your four-minute video and, should your group reach the final, in your responses to the judges’ questions at the final.
You don’t need to come to the Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge with an idea already in your head – there’ll be plenty of opportunity for you and your group to develop your idea during the competition.
What are the prizes?
Your achievements will be recognised in several ways.
- An enhanced degree transcript. If you complete the competition, you will receive an enhanced degree transcript at the end of your course. This records your achievement as a Vice-Chancellor's Challenge participant, finalist or winner alongside your academic record, and is something you could show to a prospective employer when talking about the skills you gained from the competition.
- Personal Skills Award (PSA) points. If you are an undergraduate student, you can claim points towards a Personal Skills Award (PSA) – the further you progress in the competition, the more points you can claim.
- Postgraduate Professional Development Award (PPDA). The Vice-Chancellor's Challenge contributes towards the 20 hours of 'Professional Development Activity' for the Postgraduate Professional Development Award, for PGT students. For more information visit the website and to get involved, enrol on Canvas.
- A winners’ certificate. The winners will receive a certificate signed by the Vice-Chancellor or a similar marker of their achievement.
- Funding for your project idea. If you win, you’ll get the opportunity to submit a business case for a share of £10,000 to fund your project and make it a reality.
However, the Challenge isn’t just about winning – regardless of where you get to in the competition, you will have a fun, challenging and rewarding experience, and develop important employable skills. Everyone who finishes the competition will receive an enhanced degree transcript, and all participants will be eligible for PSA points.
Media capture, copyright, confidentiality and use of personal data
The University of Birmingham will capture media, including photographs and videos during the Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge events. Resulting photographs, recordings or videos may be stored and used by the University in publications, on the University websites, social media channels and other promotional materials without further notification (“University purposes”). This means the information may potentially be leaving the UK and available to others across the world.
If you do not wish to be photographed or recorded you should speak to the photographer or contact the organiser. You can also ask the University to stop using photos or videos that identify you. Our contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on how the University uses your personal data and your rights is available at: www.birmingham.ac.uk/dataprotection.
The University of Birmingham has a non-exclusive, royalty-free, indefinite and irrevocable licence to use the video, audio and audio recording that participants produce as part of the Vice-Chancellor's Challenge for University purposes.
Participation in the competition will require you to sign a confidentiality agreement relating to the ideas that you and other groups develop during the competition. Further details will be shared at or in advance of the launch event.