Industrial Placements: The University View

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Presentation given at a UNIC meeting in Mittelheim, June 2009.
The presentation describes the benefits of an industrial work placement as part of an undergraduate degree course with particular emphasis on the benefit to students.

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Industrial Placements: The University View

  1. 1. Industrial Placements: The University view Dr Ray Wallace School of Science & Technology Nottingham Trent University, UK
  2. 2. In the UK 29% of students undertake a work placement.  This compares with the European average of 55%, France at 72% and Germany at 80%.  In the Dearing Report in 1997 the British Government recommended that every student should be given the opportunity to undertake a placement. 
  3. 3. Participation in Work Placements Graduates who participated in work placements/internships (%).  Brenda Little, 'Squaring the Circle?', ASET Conference Proceedings 2007.
  4. 4. <ul><li>Benefits to Students </li></ul><ul><li>Working knowledge and experience. Valuable work experience in a relevant business area and the .... chance to develop a range of work related skills demanded by graduate employers which will .... dramatically enhance overall employability. </li></ul><ul><li>The opportunity to put academic theory to practice and apply textbook learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Creation of a network of industry contacts and subsequent job opportunities.  In a recent survey of .... employers who take placement students, 69% of placement students were offered graduate jobs, 80% .... of employers recruited placement students with the primary aim of attracting them back to permanent .... jobs, and 40% of annual graduate intake from these employers consisted of former placement students .... (University of Manchester and UMIST, 2004). </li></ul><ul><li>Financial rewards as most placements are paid and the associated financial implication of reducing .... overall student debt. By paying half, 20%, or even no fees, remaining council tax exempt and earning a .... proper wage, many students can pay off accumulated debt, save for their final year and reduce .... hardship.  </li></ul><ul><li>Careers ideas and direction.  An insight into a particular career and future job opportunities as well as .... the chance to size up an employer and vice versa and therefore enable more informed career choices.  </li></ul><ul><li>Personal as well as professional development including self-confidence, self-discipline and .... responsibility.  Experience of job application and adapting to workplace culture within a supported .... environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas for final year project. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Benefits to Employers </li></ul><ul><li>Cost effective source of labour. </li></ul><ul><li>Motivated, committed and loyal employee. </li></ul><ul><li>         </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity to assess student’s potential for future employment - the opportunity to give a potential .... recruit a trial without obligation. </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility in staff deployment and increased productivity. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased awareness of current academic developments in the particular discipline. </li></ul><ul><li>Breakthrough thinking (not blinkered or stereotyped). </li></ul><ul><li>Generating goodwill within the academic community. </li></ul><ul><li>Payback (putting something back into the system). </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Benefits to Academic Institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily, placements help academic institutions provide graduates with the qualities that employers .... have said that they require. The links with industry, which placements promote, also help us to . keep .... abreast of changing requirements and can lead to other joint ventures such as custom-built . training .... courses and collaborative research. </li></ul><ul><li>According to the very detailed financial figures provided by the finance departments at academic .... institutions, nearly every single course that undertakes them makes profit from placements.  Despite .... some perceptions, placements are not loss making enterprises and, according to institutions’ figures, .... the way HEFCE (United Kingdom funding body) allocates funds mean that they frequently make large .... profits for departments. The HEFCE funding bands are based on the costs of teaching individuals’ .... particular disciplines. In placement years half the normal payment for students in that band is made for .... each individual.  This is given to departments as part of their lump sum but is not (unfortunately) .... tagged as a specific placement budget.  As overhead costs are much less for students on placement, .... the more students on placements a department has, the more money they make.  </li></ul><ul><li>Work placements also enhance academic performance with students obtaining significantly higher .... marks in their final year of study in comparison with students who have not undertaken a placement. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Does a Sandwich Degree make any difference?
  8. 8. What do I mean by ‘difference’?
  9. 9. What does the work place do? <ul><li>Develops observational, interpretative & reporting skills </li></ul><ul><li>Sharpens organisational skills </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses the mind </li></ul><ul><li>Improves work ethos & timekeeping </li></ul>
  10. 10. Do sandwich students fare better in their studies than they otherwise would have done?
  11. 11. Anecdotal evidence says ‘YES’
  12. 13. BSc Degree Outcomes Nottingham Trent University Chemistry Department 1998-2001 (with and without industrial training) compared with national results for all subjects and all modes of study % © Ray Wallace 2001
  13. 14. Observations <ul><li>• NTU chemistry sandwich students have a significantly greater chance of obtaining a first than their full-time counterparts and indeed students nationally </li></ul><ul><li>• The same local observation is true for an upper second class honours classification, although the ‘advantage’ is marginal compared to national figures </li></ul><ul><li>• Our full-time students are more likely to obtain a lower second or third class classification and this is higher than the national average </li></ul>
  14. 15. Degree Outcomes All Chemistry Courses Nationwide 1995-1998 Data
  15. 16. Twelve Universities <ul><li>Aston </li></ul><ul><li>Bath </li></ul><ul><li>Bradford </li></ul><ul><li>Cardiff </li></ul><ul><li>Kingston </li></ul><ul><li>Liverpool John Moores </li></ul><ul><li>Loughborough </li></ul><ul><li>Nottingham Trent </li></ul><ul><li>Paisley </li></ul><ul><li>Salford </li></ul><ul><li>Sunderland </li></ul><ul><li>Surrey </li></ul>
  16. 18. Conclusions <ul><li>A sandwich student is, on average, three times more likely to gain a first class honours degree as compared to his/her full-time counterpart (SW 17% firsts, FT 6%) in institutions where both pathways are on offer </li></ul><ul><li>Approximately twice as many sandwich students are likely to gain a ‘good honours’ degree as full-time students (SW 56%, FT 30%). </li></ul>
  17. 19. Caveat
  18. 20. Further questions need to be asked <ul><li>Are the more able students being preselected by the employer interview process? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the students seeking industrial placements more motivated anyway? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they different in temperament, approach to life and study etc? </li></ul><ul><li>Is a year in industry simply alleviating financial problems, allowing the student to concentrate on studies in the final year? </li></ul>
  19. 21. These alternative and additional factors need to be the subject of further study, however………
  20. 22. If only for these two reasons it is imperative that the sandwich route to a degree should continue to be encouraged and supported <ul><li>This investigation provides strong evidence that sandwich students do indeed, on average, do better when it comes to final degree results </li></ul>Studies elsewhere have demonstrated that sandwich students find jobs more easily
  21. 23. Other studies <ul><li>Mandilaras (2004) conducted a statistical study on the performance of </li></ul><ul><li>students of Economics and Business Economics with Computing, who </li></ul><ul><li>graduated in 2001 and 2002 at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom. </li></ul><ul><li>60% of the students did an industrial placement. </li></ul><ul><li>Found that students who had done the placement increased their chances </li></ul><ul><li>of getting an upper second class honours degree by 30%. </li></ul><ul><li>A student who had done no placement had a 69% probability of attaining a lower </li></ul><ul><li>second class honours degree compared to a 39% probability for a placement student. </li></ul>
  22. 24. Other studies <ul><li>Gomez, Lush and Clements (2004) carried out a study into the performance of 164 </li></ul><ul><li>undergraduates enrolled in a bioscience degree which had both full-time & </li></ul><ul><li>sandwich options </li></ul><ul><li>This group of students graduated in 2001 and 2002. 75% of the group did </li></ul><ul><li>the placement year and 25% did the full-time option. </li></ul><ul><li>The authors were able to demonstrate that there was a </li></ul><ul><li>strong correlation between the final degree mark and the placement year. </li></ul><ul><li>There was a nearly 4% advantage in the overall degree mark for students </li></ul><ul><li>who had carried out placement compared to those who hadn’t. </li></ul><ul><li>The study showed that this improvement was independent of gender. </li></ul>
  23. 25. Other studies <ul><li>Mendez (2008) studied the performance of 80 engineering students who </li></ul><ul><li>graduated in the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 at the University of Leicester, </li></ul><ul><li>United Kingdom. 40 had taken the year of industrial placement and 40 had </li></ul><ul><li>not. He looked at the marks obtained in the first year of the course and compared </li></ul><ul><li>percentage of the student’s 1st year mark. </li></ul><ul><li>The overall percentage increase for non-placement students was nearly 73%, </li></ul><ul><li>whereas the figure for placement students was 112% indicating a clear </li></ul><ul><li>causal relationship between industrial placement and academic performance. </li></ul><ul><li>This was reinforced by the fact that 8 out of the 10 best performing students </li></ul><ul><li>had undertaken the placement year. </li></ul><ul><li>Mendez also noted that students who had “underperformed” in the 1st year, </li></ul><ul><li>benefitted most from placement in terms of their final degree mark. </li></ul>
  24. 26. Other data from the UK Courtesy of ASET <ul><li>Every year 120,000 students go out on placement </li></ul><ul><li>Academic Performance </li></ul><ul><li>Employability </li></ul>
  25. 27. Some conclusions & personal observations <ul><li>There is sufficient anecdotal & research evidence that demonstrates that a work placement benefits both students & employers </li></ul><ul><li>Placements are reasonably popular in the UK but on the whole much more so in continental Europe despite the fact that they are often unpaid there </li></ul><ul><li>Many science students are more than happy to engage with the process of trying to find a placement but often lose heart after a few rejections by employers </li></ul><ul><li>Pressure to complete a degree as soon as possible because of financial issues weighs heavily on the minds of British students </li></ul>
  26. 28. Any Questions?

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