The exciting feature of Northern Rail’s involvement with Higher Education is not only the range, but also the diversity of the links it has made.

These links, observed the judges, not only benefit students by giving them structured and valuable work experience, but also allow Northern Rail to gain perspectives of young people on marketing issues and those of senior academics on a range of real and practical issues faced by the business.

As the biggest rail company in England, based in Rougier Street, York, Northern Rail operates 2,600 daily train services from Newcastle and Hull in the east to Carlisle and Liverpool in the west, carrying 85 million passengers a year.

Yet its management still finds time to work intensely with the University of York across a range of projects, aimed at developing students, improving their business ideas and becoming innovative problem-solvers.

These include a ten-week programme on transport aimed at schools in deprived areas; and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the university, so that Northern Rail can have direct access to the university’s skills and expertise by employing a graduate.

The 4,500-employee company is also taking part in the York Award, a certificated programme of transferable skills training offered by the university in partnership with leading organisations.

Best Business And Higher Education Link

Winner: Northern Rail Ltd

Finalists: Creative Protégé and Lazenby Brown