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EARNING AND LEARNING: UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT WORKING EXPERIENCES . Adelina Broadbridge & Laura Grierson (4 th year UG). Background .

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earning and learning undergraduate student working experiences

EARNING AND LEARNING:UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT WORKING EXPERIENCES

Adelina Broadbridge & Laura Grierson (4th year UG)

background
Background
  • 2003 - Broadbridge and Swanson undertook a survey looking at the incidence of term time and part-time employment and its effects on the adjustment to university
  • A census of UG full time students – 1166 responses
  • A mixture of positive and negative findings
2003 findings
2003 findings
  • Most students who took part in the survey reported a high commitment level to university.
  • The majority of students reported not missing lectures or tutorials as a result of their term-time employment.
  • However, around half believed that their grades would have been better if they did not have to work during the term.
  • For others, combining the two roles meant that they were able to better organise themselves, juggle their commitments and did not allow term-time employment to have a negative effect on their academic studies.
  • There was some recognition of the role that term time & vacation employment might have on their self development and future career prospects and CV building.
a decade later
A decade later
  • Economic conditions have worsened
  • Students arguably under greater pressure in the university system and afterwards
  • Economic recession has had dramatic impact on graduates seeking graduate employment - 85 graduates competing for each job (The Telegraph, 2013)
  • Interns are 3 times more likely to get top jobs (The Telegraph, 2013)
  • Apposite time to replicate the research – wondered if it was outdated and there had been significant changes over this time period, particularly in relation to the issue of employability
  • Do students perceive the university as having responsibilities for their employability?
objectives
Objectives
  • Investigate the nature, pattern and reasons for combining term-time employment and full-time academic study
  • Identify the impact which combining work and study has on university life across four areas:
    • Academic performance
    • Social life
    • Well being
    • Employability
  • Analyse the perceived (by students) role of SU in terms of students’ employability, including the notion of the university being a facilitator for the combination of student work and study
m ethodology
Methodology
  • Self completed email questionnaire
  • 24 questions – various questions with Likert Scale statements
  • Population – all UG students at the University of Stirling
  • Responses achieved – 335
  • All schools and year of study were represented (25% in 4th year)
  • Average age = 22; 83% - UK residents; 72% were female respondents;
findings
Findings
  • 69% had been involved in term time employment at some stage of their university degree (59% currently work term time)
  • 4th years – most likely to be employed currently – 68%
  • 46% of non term time workers work during vacations
  • Average hours of work per week = 15 – 16
  • Most work in the service sector (retailing; hotels & restaurants; fast food; sports & leisure; care services)
main reasons for employment
Main reasons for employment

20142003

  • Financial necessity/ hardship 90.7% 89.4%
  • Financial independence 88.2%
  • Good for putting on CV 86.6% 81.5%
  • Gaining experience of work 85.6.% 82.3%
  • Extra cash 80.4% 84.7%
  • Obtaining transferable skills 75.2% 61.5%
  • Meeting people 48.8% 56.0%
  • Obtaining network opportunities 47.3%
  • Relevance to my future career 38.7% 25.9%
  • No significant differences between 1st& 2nd years to 3rd and 4th years
impact on combining term time employment and academic performance
Impact on combining term time employment and academic performance
  • Negative:
  • Less time to study (67%)
  • Rushing assignments (42%)
  • Course and exam marks would have been better (38%)
  • Work does not have a +ve effect on studies (36%)
  • Cannot apply job experience to academic studies (38%)
  • Positive:
  • Don’t miss tutorials (84%)
  • Not late for classes (73%)
  • Don’t miss lectures (67%)
  • Can still achieve academic deadlines (52%)
  • Doesn’t affect concentration (49%)
  • Doesn’t affect degree class (44%)
  • Can apply job experience to academic studies (38%)
employability mostly positive findings
Employability – mostly positive findings

I have obtained transferable skills from term time employment (84%)

My term time employment has developed my CV (83%)

My term time employment has improved my social skills (72%)

Working during term time helps my future job prospects after graduating (64%) [cf. B&S, 2003 – 51%]

My term time employment has improved my time management skills (61%)

My term time work provides good networking opportunities (54%) [cf. B&S, 2003 – 33%]

My term time employment has set me apart from other graduates (31%)

how does su prepare students for the world of work
How does SU prepare students for the world of work?
  • “The Career Development Centre does a great job getting students ready for what to expect with job applications and interviews.”
  • “We are continually reminded how our courses provide transferable skills that apply, not only to our degree, but further in the field of work”.
  • “I feel that Stirling University prepares students for the world of work as it is a university which promotes self-learning therefore making its’ students more independent, making them more adaptable to the world of work.”
how does su prepare students for the world of work1
How does SU prepare students for the world of work?
  • “My politics and economics modules have been completely useless in terms of learning transferable skills.”
  • “Unless you are doing a degree which has a specific career as an end point then I do not feel that you are adequately prepared for the world of work.”
  • “It doesn't. It is very much reading and essay focused which is not real life situations”
  • “Not very well, lecturers solely focus on the modules/assignments, etc. and any career events/ employability workshops aren’t advertised enough.”
in what ways does su encourage students to combine work and study
In what ways does SU encourage students to combine work and study?
  • “Presentations at the start of semester highlighting work opportunities and the benefits of term-time work.”
  • BUT
  • “It doesn't. I've been told many occasions I have to be a 'full time student.”
  • “I do not think students are encouraged to work at all. I think some staff are supportive of part time jobs but I still feel that greater emphasis should be placed on gaining experience. Great marks are all very well but no experience in the outside world of work will be damaging to many students prospects.”
who would best improve the facilitation of combining student work and study at su
Who would best improve the facilitation of combining student work and study at SU?
  • Careers development “The Career Development Centre could be more visible and showcase more 'term time' employment.”
  • “Career Development Centre could perhaps attend more lectures to influence students to get jobs.”
  • “Career development centre should be more visible within the student environment.”
  • Module coordinators
  • “I think the relevant subject departments could communicate better with students about employment or voluntary experience available to help students gain some relevant experience during university time.”
in what ways does su encourage students work experiences to be integrated into their learning
In what ways does SU encourage students’ work experiences to be integrated into their learning?
  • 42% - SU do encourage work experiences to be integrated into studies
  • BUT
  • “I have never been encouraged by Stirling University to integrate work experience into my learning”
  • “I've never had anyone tell me this in my time at university except once by the careers department”
  • “Not encouraged at all or enough. Students are pretty unaware.”
other ways in which su could encourage work experiences to be integrated into student learning
Other ways in which SU could encourage work experiences to be integrated into student learning?
  • Compulsory work placements
  • Develop partnership agreements with local organisations
  • “Having more industrial placements as a mandatory part of the course similar to other universities, e.g. Caledonian.”
  • “More placements for students so that the chance to apply what we are taught becomes relevant.”
  • “Making a work experience module compulsory for every student.”
  • “There could be more focus on applying one’s work experience knowledge in class, for example encouraging pupils [sic] to use personal experiences related to their work experience when answering questions in tutorials.”
in what ways do you think su can help students to become more employable
In what ways do you think SU can help students to become more employable?
  • More access to work experience
  • “Help with more work experience, offer and help students find relevant experience”
  • “If the university attempts to make ties with companies/institutions across all sectors then it could prove quite successful.”
  • “Stirling University could help its students become more employable by running more workshops on employability skills and possibly integrating this into certain degrees making it compulsory.”
  • “More practical, real life experience integrated within the course as opposed to purely academic learning.”
conclusions and recommendations
Conclusions and recommendations
  • University life has changed – term time employment is standard practice
  • Economic recession means graduate jobs are difficult to secure
  • Employment experience as well as academic performance is now vital to most students and will form part of their graduate attributes
  • Students have an expectation that the university should do more to help secure employment experiences.
developing and supporting the curriculum
Developing and supporting the curriculum
  • SU to provide more encouragement and support to students to undertake term-time employment
  • Communicate the benefits to students which combining these two roles can bring
  • CDC to improve its advertising and marketing of its services
  • Integrate student working experiences in to their learning
  • Provide more access to subject related work experience
  • Add more compulsory work placements as part of a degree programme?
how do we accomplish this without more resources
How do we accomplish this without more resources?
  • We need to encourage more engagement with employment opportunities – both in career specific (as appropriate) and more general transferable skills
  • Need to tap in more into students’ employment experiences and incorporate into their learning
  • Students must be made more aware of the link between skills in the workplace and classroom, and the university must make more effort to encourage this link
  • Provide a differentiating student experience via programme content that integrates academic theory and practical experience