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News article

Funding boost for university to develop immersive experience for safer travel

Published: 28 July 2021

  •   Business
  •    Students
A man wearing a VR headset and hand controls

Richard Stuttle testing the VR travel simulation.

York St John University awarded funding from XR Stories to support student internships and business collaboration. 

Working with Safer Travel (Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation), a charity which offers advice and guidance for travelling safely abroad, York St John was able to offer internship opportunities to students through funding from research and development partnership XR Stories. Safer Travel was founded by Richard Stuttle, the brother of backpacker Caroline Stuttle who was tragically killed in Australia in 2002.  

The funding from XR Stories secured paid internship opportunities for two Masters students. James Moore and Thomas White, both BA Games Design graduates from York St John, worked part-time on the project whilst studying for their Masters in Virtual and Augmented Reality. Over the course of 12 weeks, James and Thomas developed the software to use with a virtual reality headset, where users walk through a simulated airport scenario looking for dangers in their environment. 

XR Stories provides research and development funding, support and networking to expand the potential of immersive and interactive technologies for digital storytelling. Their internship scheme is designed to offer small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Yorkshire and the Humber the opportunity to engage with talented students and graduates. 

Wendy Sissons, Internships and Bursaries Manger from XR Stories said “The opportunity to work with York St John University on this programme has been great. Some truly outstanding internship projects have been completed to the benefit of both local businesses and students and graduates across the Yorkshire and Humber region.” 

Safer Travel brings together essential travel, location and city specific safety advice for world destinations. Founder Richard Stuttle became involved in the project from a desire to give would-be travellers the opportunity to experience risky situations without putting themselves in danger. He said: “Our aim is to get travel safety information and knowledge out to all. Working with York St John University and benefitting from the creative and technical expertise of the students has enabled us to achieve real-life scenarios we can take into schools, colleges and universities to educate students.” 

Masters students, James and Thomas, worked under the supervision of Andy Sandham, Senior Lecturer in BA Games Design, MA Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality at York St John University. Commenting on the XR Stories internship, Andy added: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the students to work on a commercial project with an external organisation. Funding from XR Stories creates unique internships for virtual and augmented reality students and I am delighted we were able to be part of this exciting project.” 

Suzanne Dickinson, Internships Employer Engagement & Student Opportunities Manager at York St John University facilitated the project. She plans to invite Safer Travel to showcase the VR software at future careers fairs. She said: “This has been a great experience for all concerned. Thanks to the funding from XR Stories we have been able to not only help a charity but also give our students the opportunity to work on something which will have a future impact on York St John students.” 

The virtual reality software will be taken to schools, colleges and universities where students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in scenarios and perceive potential dangers.

York St John University’s careers team works with external partners to offer internship opportunities to students and graduates. To find out more about internship funding available to SME’s please contact Suzanne Dickinson at

Learn more about travel planning and safety at Safer Travel.  

More information about XR Stories can be found at

Pictured: Richard Stuttle testing the VR travel simulation.

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