skip to navigation skip to content

Santander Universities Employability Scheme

Santander Employability Scheme.

Do you need an extra hand on board? Are you thinking of creating an internship or work project for a student? Would a grant of up to £1,000 towards their salary be helpful?

The Entrepreneurship Centre, in collaboration with Santander Universities, is making grants available to assist SMEs with the cost of hiring a University of Cambridge student or recent graduate for a work project or internship.

This grant of up to £1,000 can be used to fully or partly fund the placement.

Participants on the Accelerate Cambridge programme are eligible to apply for £1,260 for a fully-funded four-week internship.

Internships or work project placements

  • Minimum duration of 70 hours (55 hours if located within the boroughs of Greater London).
  • Minimum pay rate of £9 per hour (£10.75 per hour if located within the boroughs of Greater London).
  • No more than 35 hours per week.
  • Working hours, if mutually agreed, can be distributed across the year but must always be in line with the stipulated pay rates.
  • Can be completed virtually or in person.
  • Students/graduates who have completed a funded placement cannot be funded for a second or extended placement with the same business.
  • SMEs must operate the placement in accordance with all employment laws and regulations.
  • Any salary expenditure above £1,000 must be funded by the SME in line with the stipulated hourly pay rate.

Eligibility criteria

  • Must be a for-profit company registered and based in the UK.
  • Placement must be offered to a University of Cambridge student (undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD) or recent graduate.

Recruitment and application process

SMEs are responsible for managing all aspects of the recruitment process including advertising, interviewing and selection.

The University of Cambridge Careers Service offers a recruiting service where vacancies can be posted. There is also help and advice available from their knowledgeable team. For further enquiries, contact [email protected]

Once a student or graduate has been recruited, a representative of the SME may submit an application for funding.

Submit an application

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and applicants will be notified of the outcome within 14 calendar days of submission date.

Submission of an application does not guarantee funding. 

For more information, email Zizi Hollander via:

[email protected]

Why internships bring value to a business

Hear from one of the many SMEs that benefited from Santander internship funding in 2020.

Hello, I’m Oliver Chesher. I’m the founder and managing director of Galibier PR.

Hi, I’m Georgia Burns, and I’m an account exec at Galibier PR.

I think the main misconception that exists, particularly among smaller businesses with regard to internships, is that you have to hire people with pre-existing skills and expertise in your sector, particularly because a lot of small businesses operate in specific and often very specialist sectors. Galibier, for example, is a small independent PR agency that operates in very high-rish advisory roles in sectors like finance and professional services and education. And I think for many years, the misconception I had was that I was only going to be able to hire people with years of skills and experience just from those sectors.

What I’ve since found out from having a successful internship programme with the right university is that, actually, an intern brings something different. They bring a certain energy, a certain perspective, and often a huge amount of potential straight from university. And, of course, that sector’s specific knowledge and expertise already pre-exists in the team here in the agency. So what the intern brings is something different. They contribute to a much richer and broader mix of people and their perspectives to make this team a much more diverse one.

So, Georgia, what was your main reason for pursuing the internship route rather than going straight into the jobs market when you graduated from Cambridge this year?

I think nowadays the job market is so competitive anyway that this is pressure to lock something down straight out of uni and not to take the time to shape your own interests and find what suits you. And it’s really important, I think, especially when you’re working in a small business, to meet the people and experience the company culture firsthand, really, because those are people that you’re working with every day, especially in something as collaborative as PR. And so it’s super important to have experience at that time, I think, because it’s not a one-way street at the end of the day. It has to be mutually beneficial for both me, an intern, and my employer.

Absolutely. I think that there’s definitely an incentive, an imperative, on both parties to impress one another. Obviously, the intern treats the internship as a route into long-term employment. And we have to do the same. What we don’t want is to invest the time in somebody joining and then leave after three months. And then we have to go back into the hiring process again.

So we create our internship very much as a route to a long-term future. And, certainly, that’s been very successful in Georgia’s case, as it has been with most of the interns we’ve hired. These are payrolls from day one. They’re structured, and it’s very much incumbent of us to make them as attractive and engaging as possible. And that really is the two-way investment.

I think another barrier that exists, particularly in small businesses, is this aversion to risk. Internships, of course, must be fully paid positions because we don’t want the concept of an internship to be associated with perpetuating inequality and unfairness. And the great thing about a funded internship programme is that it takes away that financial risk. So employers can take someone on with that risk taking care of.

The other thing that an internship is great for is it’s a programme in which there is a framework to really invest in building a future in terms of a pipeline of talent. It gives great opportunities to young people with a lot of enthusiasm and skill and potential to find the right fit for them. And it also creates an opportunity for us as employers to access those people and their talent.

Aw, look at– [LAUGHS]


Applications are now open to participate in the Santander Employability Scheme.

Once a student or graduate has been recruited, a representative of the SME may submit an application for funding.


Santander Universities.

Get updates

Contact us

Have a question?

[email protected]