A STUDENT-RUN business set up last Christmas to offer city centre parking for Oxford shoppers is celebrating a successful first year.

The operation, which involves public services students at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College charging drivers £5 to park all day at the Oxpens Road campus at weekends and on bank holidays, has turned over £50,000 in the past 12 months.

Efosa Nehiweze, 17, a second-year public services student, said: “The car parking business has been really good, because it has helped me to learn about discipline, team work and leadership, as well as how to deal with customers.

“It means you can put what you have learned in the classroom into practice in a real-world environment.”

Efosa, who wants to join the Army after gaining his Level 2 diploma, is part of a team of seven students who run the business. As employees, they are paid £50 for each shift they work.

The 110 parking spaces are a short walk from the city centre and offer a cheap solution to parking compared to the nearby Westgate Centre which costs £21.70 for up to eight hours on Saturdays and £17.30 on Sundays.

The college project raises money for the OCVC’s Student Fund, which supports new facilities and helps fund students who may not otherwise be able to afford to study.

The car parking business is one of the projects developed by SweetFE, a community interest company set up by the college to help promote enterprise and entrepreneurialism.

Money raised by SweetFE has supported a new business incubation area, providing office space and equipment for new student businesses.

College principal Sally Dicketts said: “This project is a great example of enterprise in action.

“The business is giving students valuable experience of working in a commercial environment, which improves their long-term employability and also enhances the skills they are learning in the classroom. It isn’t just about developing a generation of entrepreneurs but recognising that the attributes of creativity, problem-solving and teamwork are those demanded by employers.

“We’re delighted that our students have made the car parking business such a success in its first year and we look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength.”