Business Start-up at UOSiL

Check list...

Before coming to see us about your idea, consider the questions below. How does your idea meet this criteria? 


Is the business offering something more than merely competing with similar local traders?


Is there a need for the business in the UK market that is not already being fulfilled?


Is the idea bringing something new to the pre-existing UK/global business market?


Do you have realistic, sustainable, product goals?


Is there a long-term plan for the business?


Is the business likely to gain sufficient traction?


Is it a business with a potential for growth?


Would this business successfully scale to be a part of the national market?

Business Enterprise Certificate 

A free short-course for students interested in business start-up. 

Students interested in applying for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa are advised to apply for the Business Enterprise Certificate, a six-week business start up course. It is not a prerequisite but will support you in exploring the viability of your idea and how to write a business plan. Click on the image below for further details. 

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa 


The University of Sunderland is one of the UK Higher Education Institutions authorised to endorse a limited number of Start-up visas per year. There is a formal application process and you need to contact the Careers and Employability Service a minimum three months prior to your student visa expiry date if you intend to apply.


What does the University require from a Start-up visa application?


- An innovative, viable and scalable business idea

- A completed application form

- A business plan (including realistic cash flow forecast)

- You must have graduated from the University of Sunderland with a Bachelor’s degree, Masters               degree or PhD within the immediate 12 months preceding the date of application and apply from           within the UK

- Potential applicants are required to engage with the Career and Employability Service for a                   minimum of three months prior to submitting their application. We can offer one-to-one business         mentoring from external advisers. 


Your application will be reviewed by senior managers from the University and discussed at a panel; this may take some weeks to process so you should allow plenty of time before your current visa expires. As a minimum your business plan should demonstrate:


- Your idea – details of your product or service and how it is innovative

- Your skills and experience – what skills and experience do you currently have that will enable you to     deliver your business plan? What provision have you made to fill any gaps in experience? 

- Operational plan – who will be involved and how will you deliver your product or service?

- Knowledge and understanding – of the product or service and the market. Robust market research         including size of the market, competition, proof of demand, and how you will bring it to market.

- Cash flow forecast – describes realistic projections based on your market research

- It may be necessary for you to attend an interview or deliver a presentation on your business plan.


What happens next?


If your application is successful and the panel decides that your business plan is innovative, viable and scalable, you will be offered a unique reference number, which will be shared with the UK Visa and Immigration Service (UKVI). You should then take the unique reference number to UKVI and apply for your visa. 


The University has no further involvement with the visa application process. You are unable to set up your business or trade in any way until you receive your Start-up visa from UKVI.


Information on the visa application eligibility from the UK Visa and immigration website

To be eligible to apply for a Start-up visa you will need all of the following:


- A UK-recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD awarded before your date of                       endorsement

- Endorsement from an authorised UK higher education institution issued in the past 3 months

- £945 in savings - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank       account for 90 days prior to applying

- To meet the English language requirement

- Permission to remain in the UK from your financial sponsor if they’re a government or an                       international scholarship agency and have paid your course fees and living costs in the past 12             months


You can’t apply with any of the following:


- Foundation degrees

- Honorary degrees

- Qualifications awarded in the UK by overseas awarding bodies

- Qualifications undertaken at overseas campuses of UK institutions

- Professional and vocational qualifications

- Postgraduate certificates or diplomas


What happens once you have obtained your Start-up visa?


The University can offer you support through business mentoring whilst you are researching your idea alongside your studies and also once you have obtained your Start-up visa. 


Once you have obtained your Start-up visa, the University will expect you to be working on your business idea on a full-time basis and to be in regular contact with the Enterprise Place at the main Sunderland campus. As part of your membership to the Enterprise Place you will be asked to submit monthly reports on your business progress. You will also have regular review meetings with University staff including Enterprise and Innovation managers and the International Gateway team from the University who will assess the development of your business.

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