More info and apply

EPY is suitable for Undergraduate students who are eligible for a year long placement and wish to start up or grow a business as a sole trader, partnership/ limited company, social enterprise, or establish their freelance enterprise in preparation for their self-employed career.

Applications for 24/25 are now closed.  You can register interest in EPY 25/26 using the button below.

If you would like to discuss your idea or have questions about Enterprise Placement Year consult us at

Register interest EPY 25/26

Information Sessions


Get a jump start by using our on campus or online support to boost your knowledge, skills and network with NI business support providers - you could even meet your future business partner here!

Preparing for EPY 24/25:  Successful applicants will be invited to attend a pre-placement year session during Semester 2.

Ideation workshops: Primarily for 1st year students keen to explore starting up their own business or freelancing enterprise in preparation to apply for EPY in 2nd year.  Check Handshake events for upcoming dates on your nearest campus.

UU Enterprise Hub: Visit the Enterprise Hub Support

What you can expect from EPY

EPY has supported a number of students in establishing successful businesses which are now providing a self-employed income, creating employment and generating revenue in the Northern Ireland economy.

Working from your own premises or in established co-working spaces, you will have the support from the Enterprise support teams at UU and local business support partners as well as one to one mentoring with your EPY mentor. We'll work closely with you to help you develop your ideas and launch a new venture or further develop an existing business.

The support you can expect might look like this:

  • Workshops:  Twice per month on core topics by expert professionals eg: Market Research, Building your Brand, Funding & Finance, Sales and Marketing.
  • One to One mentoring: Monthly with the EPY mentor, keeping you accountable to your set goals, providing advice and celebrating success!
  • Virtual Drop In:  Weekly online to connect with the EPY community for quick questions, sharing problems and celebrating the wins!
  • MS Teams and EPY Notebook: Your constant points of reference for advice, guidance, events and learning opportunities.
  • Self-directed CPD: professional development appropriate to your Diploma in Professional Practice, industry and future career plan.
  • Ad-hoc support: access 1:1 appointments for advice and support from any member of the team when required.
Featured EPY Alumni - Aura Digital Studios (EPY 20-21)

Featured EPY Alumni - Aura Digital Studios (EPY 20-21)

AURA Digital Studios - Eva Robinson and Josh McAvoy (BA (Hons) Animation 1st Class) graduated June 2022.

Eva and Josh were one of our EPY student founders back in 2020-21 in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Due to their placements being cancelled, these students were determined to gain placement experience through setting up their own business, and so took the initiative of approaching UU to ask if this would be possible and what support would be available.  EPY was born - as was Aura!

Their transition from Animation students doing some paid freelance projects to a highly respected and industry leading  Creative Technology company started with using the advice, support and network connections provided on EPY, not to mention their own extremely hard work, passion and drive!

They were quickly joined by classmate Sinead Burns, who is now a full partner at Aura and 1 year on from graduation they now lease their own offices in Belfast AND employ 8 staff full time as well as freelancers during busy periods.  They represented Northern Ireland as the leader in Virtual Production at the SXSW Conference in Texas earlier this year and are finalists in 2 major production awards in London and Europe.

Eva & Josh are stunning examples of what is possible from small beginnings on EPY at Ulster!

Enterprise Placement Year (EPY) Essential Information 2024/25

  • What do I need for a successful EPY?

    Self-motivation, enthusiasm, commercial awareness and a drive to start a business or commence self-employment/freelancing opportunities. You are expected to commit to working full time on your business.

  • What would I miss from a regular work-based placement?

    Employment experience, an employer’s reference and perhaps, a reliable income

  • What is the application process for EPY?

    If you are happy that the option could suit your plans please firstly obtain approval from your placement tutor/course director, then submit an application which takes the form of a short business proposal.  This will be considered by a panel, and  if successful you will be invited to an interview to further discuss your plans for your Enterprise Placement Year.

    TIPS on completing your application:

    1. Ensure you have a good understanding of how EPY works, and the objectives and outputs for the year.  You can find answers to these via our FAQs, through an EPY information session in class/online or by booking an advice appointment with Jackie Smyth via Handshake or by contacting

    2. Have a researched business idea which you want to start up and develop which will be trading well before the end of EPY - or an existing trading business which you would like to further grow and develop.  Please note, this is not a 'research' year.
    3. If applying in a group, you must EACH submit an application - whilst the business idea and product/service description will be the same, answers such as Section 2 (e), (g), (i) must be about your role, plans for the year and development.
  • When does EPY start/finish?

    Students are free to take up their EPY as soon as examination period ends in May 2024.  There will be a compulsory EPY on-boarding during September (approximately 9th - 11th Sept 24) and EPY ends in May 2025.

  • What about money?

    EPY is a self-employed placement, therefore you are responsible for your own income.  Please make sure you have researched the impact on your maintenance allowance and any other entitlements so you are in a position to plan ahead.  You will be supported to apply for Bursaries, Scholarships, business competitions and funding during 2024/25.  All applicants will have a business mentor to support applications to opportunities for funding.

  •  What about a part-time job?

    We understand that you need to cover your living expenses, therefore part-time work is allowed - however, any part-time job must not exceed 16 hours a week nor interfere with mandatory elements of the EPY programme. To help you plan, we strongly suggest that you do NOT work on Tuesdays, as this is the core day for EPY activity.

  • Am I sure to be allocated a place?


    There are invariably more applicants than we can properly support, so the number of students on EPY is limited. In addition, students who already have a business or are in the stages of being ready to launch their business will be given priority.

  • Can I work with another student? 

    Yes, we accept business partnerships but only comprising 3 students.  Where more than 3 are required to successfully run the business, this may be considered by exception and must be approved by both your placement tutor and the EPY team prior to application.

  • Am I on my own with EPY? 

    The success, or otherwise, of your EPY will be very much down to your own efforts. The Enterprise Placement Team will support you with regular catch-ups, information, facilities, opportunities and advice from experienced Business Advisors. However, you will need to be efficient and business-like in all your actions for the duration of EPY; this is not, by any means, a ‘soft option’ for a placement!

  • Can International (outside the EU) students apply?

    Whilst your visa will allow you to study in the UK, it may not include the permission necessary to be on placement or become self-employed so EPY may not be appropriate for you.  We recommend you consult the Compliance Manager at Student Administration based at Coleraine Campus for further information.

What will be expected of you

During your EPY you will be expected to:

  • Devote time, energy and commitment to your business and the programme,
  • Proactively seek support from Business Advisors when you need it
  • Attend meetings and events including On Boarding, workshops, drop-ins, monthly mentoring and other important events
  • Take part in competitions and initiatives when advised by the Enterprise Team
  • Set monthly goals and follow through on these
  • Maintain a digital portfolio of your business and professional activities, and an end of year reflection on your experience.
  • Prepare for and deliver a final business pitch at the end of your EPY.