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July 30, 2014

SAP User Group partnership boosts employment outcomes for Birmingham City University

Students get to work hands-on with SAP projects under the first-of-its-kind partnership.

By Joe Curtis

SAP customers are more interested in HANA and mobility applications than ERP and CRM tools, according to a university producing the next generation of systems integrators.

Birmingham City University (BCU) is on SAP’s University Alliance programme, which provides SAP hardware and software to postgraduate students training to manage organisations’ technology deployments.

As a result of a 2011 partnership with the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, BCU has been able to chart a change in SAP customers’ interest from ERP and CRM tools five years ago to HANA (50% of firms) and mobility solutions (up to 30%), according to one of the course leaders.

Ardavan Amini, head of the Enterprise Systems Centre of Excellence, where SAP enable students of the MSc Enterprise Systems Management Degree to use its software and hardware, added that working with companies during the course through BCU’s partnership with the user group means students are better prepared for jobs after the course.

"It gets the students engaged with the industry, so they understand the requirements and the challenges and also allows for the industry to get engaged with us," he told CBR.

"It means the students get the required skills and ability, knowledge and expertise when they are graduated from our programme."
Companies bring SAP projects to BCU and students are assigned during the course to carry them out, often joining the company as a full-time employees afterwards.

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This is thanks to the first-of-its-kind partnership with the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, started in 2011 to provide students access to real SAP projects.

And Amini said the partnership has boosted employment rates for leaving students, with up to 85-90% of them (there are around 35 on the current course) joining SAP customers.

"Prior to working with the user group, the students had to go on careers sites and job centre sites and look for jobs themselves," he added.

"There was no initial exposure to industry. More case studies in the course were theoretical cases whereas since 2011 we have had actual companies giving us actual challenges for the students to get engaged with.

"That relationship between the university and the user group has really given them the maturity and the benefit of gaining that SAP knowledge and expertise."

One such example is with retail jewellery company Aurum Holdings, which took on two students to work on shifting its CRM system into HANA and to use mobility for front end customer experience.

"We actually got to know BCU through attending one of the user group’s events and our relationship has grown from there," said Glenn Bamford, SAP Manager at Aurum Holdings.

"Students join us with a knowledge of SAP, but more importantly a desire to work in this field. This means that have a head start in terms of skills and motivation, resulting in faster integration within the team. In return, we provide BCU with real-life business problems so courses can be tailored to give students the correct skills to find a job in SAP."

The partnership also means BCU students get discounted user group memberships to access product seminars and the group’s online forums.

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