The University of Bath has begun offering its female undergraduates access to a special skills development programme. The programme, called ‘Sprint’, helps participants to develop skills related to assertiveness, leadership, managing conflict and ‘networking with purpose’.


Forty-one female undergraduates at the University of Bath have just completed the university’s first Sprint programme, which began in January this year.


Developed by The Springboard Consultancy (SBC), a UK-based international training company specialising in addressing women’s development issues, the Sprint programme is intended for undergraduate women of all ages, from all backgrounds, ages and stages in their lives and study, regardless of subject, department or career aspirations.


Speaking on a video about Sprint produced by the university, Saiyada Fazal, from the University of Bath’s Careers Department, and a Sprint-licensed trainer, explained, “Those on the Sprint programme will be equipped with tools and techniques to take charge of their careers and, hopefully, be able to manage those more successfully when they graduate.


“A significant number of our programmes are within the stem subject areas of science, technology, engineering and maths,” she added. “Traditionally, these are male-dominated fields so there’s good reason for the university to do a little bit extra for our female students.”


“Microsoft is supporting Sprint because we like the idea of gathering female undergraduates in a safe environment and enabling them to define their career goals,” said Justyna Martula, of Microsoft – one of the programme’s sponsors at the university. “


Claire Buckingham of AXA, another of the programme’s sponsors, commented, “We have a great interest in being able to give these female undergraduates the skills they need to progress at university and in their future careers. The Sprint programme enables the students to discuss what’s important to them and to know the right way to reveal these to potential employers.”


Catherine Wenger, of fellow-Sprint-sponsors, ARUP, said, “We’re keen to increase the diversity of our staff because we recognise that the best way to get a wide range of talent is to get as diverse a pool of people as possible.


“So programmes like this are a fantastic way of bringing along and encouraging graduates,” she added. “The range of topics covered are fundamental to people choosing their work careers – so they will be of immense benefit whatever direction the students go on to take in the future.”


Professor Peter Lambert, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching at the University of Bath, said that, having experienced the Sprint programme, “The students will have gained self-confidence and self-belief – above all, belief in their skills, their abilities and their future career.”


Sprint actively engages women undergraduates in their university studies and careers; aims to improve their employability, boost their self-confidence, self-esteem and personal effectiveness. So far, over 70 per cent of Sprint participants say they are now more assertive – and are better at setting realistic goals and action points, managing their time and working more productively.


The Sprint programme grew from research showing the large pay gap between men and women after graduating from Oxford University, even though they hold the same class degrees in the same subjects. For example, 50 per cent of social science male graduates earn £27,000 or more on leaving, while 70 per cent of females with exactly the same degrees, earn that amount or less.


A similar survey, by the Higher Education Careers Unit, measuring the earnings of 17,000 recent graduates, discovered that 70 per cent of women graduates were earning less than £24,000, compared with 55 per cent of men – even in subject areas where women’s participation was greater than men’s, such as law.


To see the Bath University video on Sprint, visit