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Future leaders and innovators graduate scheme

The University of Exeter is launching a new Graduate Scheme within Professional Services.

The Future Leaders & Innovators Graduate Scheme is a new graduate programme that will provide you the opportunity to work across 5 divisions of Professional Services.

In the first year of the scheme, you will spend time embedding into staff life, learning & developing key professional skills and complete 3 placements across Professional Services Directorates. In year 2 of the Graduate Scheme, you will take with you a Management Accreditation, mentoring skills and complete 2 further placements.

The placements will include a diverse range of projects which will enable you to have an all-rounded view of what it means to work in Professional Services in Higher Education and equip you with the skills to excel in your career.

Interested? Please find the details of the scheme below, including the application process, how to apply and the support you will receive. We look forward to working with you! 

What is Professional Services?

The Professional Services sector is one of the biggest employers in the UK, but what exactly is professional services?

Together at the University of Exeter, our highly skilled and diverse Professional Services team enables the smooth management of the University. We work in close partnership with Faculties and Departments to develop and deliver strategies and plans for our future success. Our Professional Services teams are currently working towards Strategy 2030.

Currently we have over 2,500 staff working within Professional Services across 9 divisions.

Students on the Forum Piazza on Streatham Campus

These include: Exeter InnovationDigital - HR Services - Education and Academic Services - External Engagement and GlobalIT Services - Finance, Infrastructure and Commercial Services - Research services - University Corporate Services.

Each directorate has their own objectives and commitments to Strategy 2030. As part of the Future Leaders & Innovators Graduate Scheme, you will be exposed to a variety of strategic priorities through rotational placements across Professional Services.

The Application Process

We recruit up to 4 Future Leaders & Innovators on the Graduate Scheme to be based at one of our campuses.


  • Recruitment for the 2024 cohort is open to anyone as long as you have, or are expecting to have, an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification by September 2024. How long ago you received your degree has no bearing on your application.
  • You do not need to be a graduate from the University of Exeter.

  • You can apply if you are still studying, although if you are successful in the assessment process, your job offer may be conditional pending completion of your degree. 

Hands working on shared paper

We particularly welcome applications from individuals that are from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, individuals with disabilities, and other groups that have protected characteristics as they are under-represented within the University of Exeter at these levels.

We want to ensure that the application process is inclusive as possible, so if you require any reasonable adjustments at any stage, please let us know.

Stage 1: Online Application

You will need to upload your CV and complete three questions as part of your application.
The questions are:

  1. What skills do you have and how will they be used in the Future Leaders & Innovators Graduate Scheme?
    (Please refer to the 'skills, experience & understanding' section of the person specification found in the job description) (250 words)
  2. Where have you demonstrated the 'Behavioural Characteristics' outlined in the person specification? 
    Please choose two examples (You can use examples from your studies, personal or professional experience). (250 words)
  3. Tell us about an innovative solution that you have come up with to solve a problem or improve something? What was the outcome? (250 words)

Stage 2: Assessment Centre

We want to ensure that our assessment centres are accessible to a range of applicants, so we will hold them online.

An assessment centre is designed to get the best out of you and to enable you to show your individual skills and qualities.  It is also an opportunity for you to meet members of the senior leadership team, learn more about working at the University and decide whether a career in Professional Services is for you.

The assessment centre will take place over one day. It will be held online and will involve an individual task, a group activity & discussion and finally an exercise to test your written communication.

The assessment centre is designed to be both enjoyable and challenging.

Stage 3: Individual Interview

If you are successful in the Assessment Centre, you will be invited to an individual panel interview with members of senior management - the final stage of the recruitment process. The interview will last approximately 45 minutes.

Tips for success

Successful candidates will be those who show the greatest potential through the recruitment process and who show a motivation to work in Professional Services, and in particular at the University of Exeter.

Learning, Development and Support

During the Future Leaders & Innovators Graduate Scheme we will support you in a Learning & Development programme to future proof your skills, so you are set up for success for your career ambitions.

Over the 2 years you will be part of specific skills workshops, including (but not limited to) digital skills, communication workshops, positive action for diversity as well as a formal Management Essentials & Practitioner Accreditation.

In year 2 of the Graduate scheme, you will become a Mentor for the subsequent graduate cohort. You will work 1:1 sharing your skills and experience with them to date to not only show your leadership skills, but also help set them up for success.

Students sitting at desk

Please note- this is a new Graduate Scheme to the University, your insights through the 2 year Graduate scheme are extremely valuable and we hope to gather your feedback regularly to co-create future iterations of the Graduate Scheme.

The cohort you join will be your community to share ideas, innovate and discuss improvements for the future. You will have opportunities throughout the year to give feedback on any developments to your line manager, the Graduate Scheme Manager.

Apply now

Applications for both streams of the Future Leaders and Innovators Graduate Scheme are currently closed.

We will shortlist all applications for this cycle by the end of January 2024, and all applicants will be contacted with the next steps following this.

Applications for both streams will reopen for the 2025 cycle in Autumn 2024. 

Please complete this form to register your interest for future iterations of the scheme, and for email updates. 


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Contact us for further information: