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Bright Network’s Virtual University Series – from South West England to Scotland

20 November, 2020

The Virtual University Series was borne out of the need to connect students and employers during this challenging campus season. Opportunities for students to explore and gain insight into different sectors, their potential career paths and how to be a standout candidate are more limited than ever, so we were delighted to support thousands of members (virtually) on campus.

For companies, less contact with students has meant a diminished understanding of their main concerns, especially as confidence is at an all-time low. The series’ ambitious and pro-active attendees shared their current thoughts, shedding light on how employers can continue to be supportive during this unusual period.

The Virtual University Series in numbers:

  • 4781 applications
  • 1532 live attendees
  • 52% BAME
  • 47% state-educated

How did members feel about the series?

  • 99% would recommend Bright Network to a friend
  • 98% found the series very useful/useful for upskilling for their future applications
  • 97% described the experience as brilliant or good

Our partners for the series included ICAEW, BDO, Macfarlanes, British Army, Accenture, HMRC, McCann Manchester, ForrestBrown, PA consulting, Henley business school, MHA Larking Gowen.

A key takeaway was the enthusiasm of students to know more about the graduate schemes available to them, as they explored career options and sectors. Our members were delighted to hear more about interview processes and employer upskilling opportunities, as well as how resilience, passion and commercial awareness over experience or grades were highly rated in applicants.

According to the latest Bright Network research, 90% of students believe that employers should be supporting upskilling during university. This combined with the high interest during the series are clear indicators that students have a deep and current focus on boosting their employability.

Another theme emerging from members was their struggle with understanding employer’s needs – in other words, how can they best prepare for their application and interview answers. Questions such as - what are the key things employers are looking for in an application? What can be done to stand out from the crowd?

Bright Network conducted its own survey in this area, finding that across employers the most impressive candidate traits are strong communication skills, passion for the business, problem-solving skills and resilience. This also was echoed by our employer partners during the series.

In conclusion, students are more excited than ever to engage with employers, as many have an explorative approach to their future career, while enthusiastic about building up the skills and knowledge to put their best foot forward when they eventually come to submit an application.

From Bright Network, a huge thanks to the thousands of members and the employer partners that made the first Virtual University Series an inspiring journey of eight events, from the South West to Scotland (and everywhere in between).


Brilliant events, best we’ve attended this year” – ICAEW

My colleagues have been raving about the event and how much they enjoyed the experience” – British Army

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thank you for organising yesterday’s session. It was great to be involved in and it was very helpful to share some insights on our roles and the company with the students” – Accenture


If you would like to get involved in future events or explore ways Bright Network could support your organisation, please get in touch with our team at