Internships for all students, government review urges (UK)

By David Matthews

All undergraduates should be offered 10 to 12 week internships to improve their employability, according to a government-commissioned review of links between universities and business. The ‘Review of Business-University Collaboration’ by Sir Tim Wilson, former vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, has also called for funding incentives to expand the number of sandwich courses in industry.

The report, released today, makes several recommendations around work placements and employment data. In addition to undergraduate placements, work experience placements of 8 to 12 weeks should be offered to PhD and postdoctoral research students, it says. Universities should disclose the job destinations of recent full-time taught postgraduates, broken down by department, “as soon as possible”, the report recommends.

The creation of “distinctive” Key Information Sets for postgraduates “should be a priority development” for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, it adds.  KIS data for undergraduates are being introduced in the autumn and cover areas including student satisfaction, employment and salary data, accommodation costs and fees.

The review also argues for more sandwich courses, saying that the “evidence that a placement year improves employability opportunities is strong. “Indeed, lack of work experience appears as a key barrier to young people, including graduates, in securing employment.”  The review recommends a maximum fee of £1,000 for the sandwich year and a suspension of interest on student loans during the period.

It also argues that Hefce should encourage an increase in the number of sandwich programmes “though changes to the student numbers controls that it operates.” Vince Cable, the business secretary, said that the government “welcomes much of what Sir Tim says and will now carefully consider his recommendations in detail.”

Source: Times Higher Education