UNIVERSITY students in York are being offered to businesses across the region to help firms break into international markets.

Businesses across Yorkshire looking to boost their export sales are being given the opportunity to work with specialists from York St John University as part of The Graduates for International Business project.

While universities have a long history of placing graduates with companies looking for specific skills, this is the first time that businesses are being offered the chance to select graduates and masters level students who have the specialist skills and expertise needed to capitalise on international markets.

The Graduates for International Business project, launched this month, is being coordinated by Yorkshire Universities, the membership association that represents all 12 higher education institutions in Yorkshire.

Emily Wolton, executive director of Yorkshire Universities, said: “Our universities attract students from over 150 countries, including postgraduate students who already have a degree and are working towards a higher level qualification.

“Their cultural awareness and connections in international markets, language skills and other specialist knowledge could be a massive boost for companies and this project will help to make that happen.”

Lynne Mounsey, group HR manager of Rent-A-Car, which has previously worked with university students, said: “We’ve found that international students working with Enterprise Rent-A- Car on specifically tailored projects have not only enriched our working environment but have brought with them added diversity of language skills, cultural perspective and labour market insight; all crucial in a competitive global market giving our business an industry advantage.”

Ms Wolton added: “The Student Business Project is really easy for companies to use. They simply contact Yorkshire Universities, tell us the profile of the person they need, for example specific language skills, specialist knowledge of a country or international marketing experience, and we will put a call out to the higher education institutions to find candidates that fit the bill.”

Students are paid by the businesses that employ them as part of the Graduates for International Business and companies must be based in Yorkshire.

The scheme is being undertaken by York St John, the Universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds Metropolitan, and Leeds Trinity, working together with the Local Enterprise Partnerships of Leeds City Region and York, North Yorkshire & East Riding.