What has been the impact of the programme on students and challenge hosts so far?

The impact of SACHA on students

A pie chart that shows the top 5 Sustainable Development Goals addressed in the SACHA programme.

Since 2019, the Students as Change Agents programme (SACHA) has:

  • Seen approximately 1,200 students from across different disciplines and years of study participate in the programme.
  • Worked with 31 organisations from the non-profit, public and private sectors. 
  • Received over 86% satisfaction rate and 90% said they would recommend the programme to their friends. 
  • Empowered students to address 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We value diversity and welcome students from any degree programme and year of study. As such we are proud to have Change Agents coming from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS), College of Science and Engineering (CSE), and College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM).



A bar graph which shows over 90% of students in the programme developed communication, design thinking, digital communication, inclusive leadership, problem solving, public speaking and teamwork skills.

Students' main takeaways from the programme

After each programme we ask students to provide feedback and share their greatest takeaways from the programme.  

The most recent survey shows that the students' main takeaways were:

  • Skills development 
    • Over 90% of students said they developed confidence in communication, design thinking, digital communication, inclusive leadership, problem solving, public speaking and teamwork skills.
  • Working with diverse people
    • Working in an intense team environment on real-world challenges has helped students make meaningful connections with peers from across the university and often establish long-term friendships.
  • Getting inspired to get involved
    • SACHA was born out of a need to cater for students who are are interested in social impact and sustainability, working with others beyond their discipline, and with organisations whose values they share. The programme has helped students to realise their potential to have impact, empowering them to become Change Agents for Life.


My greatest takeaway from SACHA program was the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Throughout the program, I had the opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and this really opened my eyes to the value of working together towards a common goal. I also learned a lot about the importance of effective communication and how it can make or break a project. I plan to apply these skills in my future career and believe that they are essential in any industry. 

My greatest takeaway will be the people I've met through the programme and hearing different people's perspectives on an issue. The skills I've developed as a result include communication and teamwork skills as well as problem-solving.

I have been completely inspired to get more involved in environmental activism and the positive response from the team to our ideas, and presentation has given me the confidence to aim for the career in politics which I have always wanted to do, but not had the confidence to properly pursue.

How students have applied their SACHA experience in other areas of their life

The programme aims to create lifelong Change Agents, who understand the power and responsibility they have to effect change and develop the skills to make that happen.

Previous participants have:
  • Become more involved in volunteeringadvocacy and social action.
  • Applied their skills in their university studies.
  • Used their experience professionally - in job applications and interviews.
  • Used their increased confidence and drive to explore their ideas further with Edinburgh Innovations.
  • Spoken at conferences on the challenge topics, one of which was the Learning and Teaching Conference 2023, where students participated as panelists.
A SACHA student speaking at the Learning and Teaching Conference 2023

Change Agents' Journeys post programme

We asked some of our Change Agents to share their experience with us. Now you can check out the links below to find out how previous participants are continuing with their Change Agents activities.

James' Journey 
James Conway picture

Taking part in the Students as Change Agents programme was a really valuable way to develop skills and experience that I use as part of my role in Research Consultancy at Changeworks.

I applied for the programme as I developed a passion for using research and data analysis to tackle sustainability challenges, throughout my time at the university. The programme offered me an opportunity to put these skills to use and further explore my interest in this area. 

To learn more about James' experience in the programme and how he has used SACHA to explore his interest, read the blog below.

Jule's Journey
A photo of Jule who was a previous SACHA participant

Most of the skills were already there in some ways, but SACHA helped me to use those skills and get the practice I needed to confidently say that I can do self-driven work, project management, work with different groups of people. Having the chance to actually use those skills and see what works and what doesn’t prepared me for a fast-paced self-driven work environment where if you want change to happen, you have to push for it. Experiencing that first-hand really put into perspective all the theoretical knowledge I had.

Jule returned to the SACHA programme as a host and posed a challenge question the aviation industry is trying to tackle. The SACHA team interviewed Jule about her experience on the programme. Click the link below to watch the full interview.

Jule's SACHA Experience - Full interview (Media Hopper)

Carole's Journey
A photo of Carole who was a previous Reniero participant

Overall, communicating in a diverse team, discovering one’s passion, improving one’s academic work. That is all possible when taking part in the SACHA programme, and I highly recommend it to any student who is keen to challenge him or herself, learn something new, and be a part of something socially important and impactful.

Carole joined SACHA in 2021 and since then has used the connection she made in the programme and went on to secure an internship with the host organisation. Read her Change Agents for Life Journey blog below to find out more.

The impact of SACHA on challenge hosts

Through their involvement in SACHA our host organisations gain an amazing insight into how creative and committed our students can be when they work together and see students’ passion to make a difference in the world.

Challenge hosts can:

  • Experience design thinking and data informed innovation in action.
  • Benefit from fresh thinking about endemic challenges which is presented to them in 5 minute videos and short, highly visual reports which bring each group’s ideas to life and can be shared more widely in the host organisation and beyond.
  • Benefit from approximately 200 hours of student time per challenge topic.

SACHA allows host organisations to evidence their commitment to contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Many of our hosts have taken the students’ ideas forward, allowing them to influence policy and service delivery. For example:

  • The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children has incorporated students’ ideas into a framework which was presented to the United Nations.
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland used their groups’ ideas to contribute to a collective response to the Scottish Government Alcohol Marketing consultation.

I genuinely think that especially at a time like just now, when there are just so many challenges for the music industry, that having such insightful and really well articulated ideas has really given us a lot of food for thought, and it will totally inform our work so, please recognise the importance of this work, especially at this time for our industry.

It’s been a really inspiring initiative to have been part of, and I’ve been hugely impressed by both the calibre and enthusiasm of the students involved and the organisation and commitment from the university team. We will mull over all that has been shared and consider if there are elements we can implement - now or in the future. 

Many thanks for inviting us. A great and uplifting experience with real benefits. Big thanks to the students - a seriously impressive bunch!