The Higher Education Academy project, Improving Industrial Sandwich Year Placements For Computing Students, is one of the most rewarding ones that I’ve worked on.
The final report, joint authored by Kawal Banga (my Research Associate) and me has been published, adds to the volume of research on student placements and employments, and ties in well with the material we’ve already presented at workshops, conferences and through seminars.
The report finds that the sector needs to do more to encourage students to take a placement.
There are many barriers to placements, including students not wanting to pay fees for a placement year, a lack of student mobility from their local area, students lacking confidence to apply for placements (especially when facing rejection) and a perceived limit to the number of placements available. Despite that, 33% of eligible students were found to take a placement across the sector as a whole.
Examples of good practice were identified as well, including universities developing alternatives to placements to improve student employability skills and developing their own case studies and quantitative data to show their students the benefits of completing a placement.
Based on the project findings, the report makes 10 recommendations for the sector:
- Motivate and persuade students of the benefits of placements
- Better prepare students to apply for placements and to use the time out on placement to the advantage of their future career
- Work closely with employers, local SMEs and external agencies to create placement opportunities
- Partner with other local HEIs to offer placements
- Allow students to work together to establish their own companies as a placement opportunity
- Develop peer methods of placement support amongst students
- Follow Codes of Practice for placements
- Widely share useful placement resources and findings
- Use virtual visits to increase the support available to students
- Develop robust training methods and processes for placement staff
The opportunities to innovate are there for the universities willing to take them!
I continue to teach student employability and to show students how they can best prepare themselves to get a placement. I’m already using the research to help to motivate students.
The final report is available directly through the HEA and online.