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Why are some students unable to access work placements?

April 2019

Work placements dramatically improve students' employment prospects after graduation, but few students experience them. Why is this the case, which students tend to secure placements, and how can these figures be improved?

Key findings

  • Outcomes for bioscience and chemistry students were significantly improved by doing a sandwich placement. The proportion of students going into highly skilled employment or postgraduate study was approximately 25% higher for those who completed a sandwich placement.
  • Despite the benefits of a placement year, 67.5% of bioscience and chemistry students either chose not to participate or were unsuccessful in finding placements.
  • There were demographic variations in those who took placements - older students and those from BME backgrounds experienced more barriers. Those potentially most in need of placements were the least likely to get them, making them miss out on work experience and opportunities to build networks.
  • There are a number of potential solutions to reduce these barriers, such as bursaries and childcare for students undertaking unpaid placements, and a more flexible approach to placement delivery.

Download the full report

Demographic variations in placement choice

  • File type
    PDF
  • Number of pages in document
    33  pages
  • File size
    1.5 MB

Download the full report

Download PDF file Demographic variations in placement choice

About the report

This HECSU-funded research explores the demographic variations in work placement choices made by bioscience and chemistry students studying at Sheffield Hallam University.

Ensuring that students are fully prepared for entering the graduate labour market has become a top priority for universities in recent years, and the importance of providing opportunities for students to apply their theoretical knowledge to real, workplace-based experiences accepted by all. Although based on a relatively limited sample, this report offers important significant insights into how this can be achieved for all students.

The author, Nicola Abbott, is a specialist adviser for bioscience and chemistry students.

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