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Value for students

students. Interestingly, there was also some variance based on the home location of students too. The students for whom earning potential was most important, were international (non-EU) students at 90%, possibly because the financial cost involved in coming to study in the UK is that bit more significant. Students from the European Union (86%), the North East of England (85%) and the East of England (84%) were then most likely to state that earning potential is important. Students from the Channel Islands (69%), Northern Ireland (78%) and Wales (78%) were least likely to stipulate that earning potential was important.

Satisfaction with advice and guidance on long term opportunities from academic staff One of the areas in our research with the greatest divergence in views from the respondents, was with the satisfaction accorded to the quality and utility of advice and guidance on long term opportunities from academic staff. Across the 55 universities in the study, students at one institution had a level of satisfaction at just 57% with the quality of guidance on long term opportunities from their academic staff. Whereas at the top end, the best performing university scored 89%. In many respects, this is not a huge surprise, but to see evidence about the extent to which there is quite considerable variability in the quality and satisfaction on the advice and guidance students are given to help them plan for the future is noteworthy. Indeed, only 4 out of the 55 universities in the study scored over 85% satisfaction on this measure. There was a degree of variability in the satisfaction with guidance for long term opportunities based on the subject studied too, with students studying medicine and dentistry (82%) and subjects allied to medicine (82%) most likely to be satisfied. Students on language courses (62%) and then history/philosophy (68%) and social studies (68%) were least likely to say they are satisfied in this regard.

When asking students about their satisfaction with the careers advisory service specifically, there was an interesting range too. The top performing university score 96%

satisfaction with their careers advisory service. Indeed there were 27 of the 55 universities hitting 90% of more. However, the lowest performing university scored just 76% satisfaction and three others below 80%.

Importance of work experience and placements We know that many recruiters use work experience and placements as an ideal opportunity to help assess the suitability of prospective applicants for when they come to apply. In many respects, students use work placements for very similar reasons, as an opportunity to determine whether that sector is right for them and specifically, if the organisation they are with is one they might wish to apply for. We know that students who undertake work placements, particularly in a structured fashion, significantly enhance their employment prospects, but take-up and availability remains varied across the higher education sector.

It was striking that there was significant variability in the satisfaction of students in terms of the opportunities for work experience and work placements. Students on language courses (51%) were least likely to be satisfied, with history/ philosophy (60%) and classics (61%) just ahead. The students who were most satisfied with the opportunities for work placements were those on subjects allied to medicine (88%), education (86%) and tourism (86%). It is certainly noteworthy that those courses, where there are typically structured work placements or a significant work based learning component, scored highest. Without doubt, the increasing focus we have seen come to bear in relation to student employability over the last few



prospects work placements

long term opportunities

years, will continue to intensify over the years ahead. The universities which are able to meet and exceed the expectations of students will help to support their students into future careers, but also reap the reward of gaining a reputation to prospective students too. Ultimately this will not be achieved by universities in isolation, but by engaging actively with employers and students to achieve this.

For more details about the 2015 Student Employability Index and a download of the full report, please visit:

Aaron Porter has a portfolio of roles including as Associate Director (Public Affairs) for the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB). He was previously President of the National Union of Students (2010-11) and has served on a number of boards including the University of Leicester, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and Endsleigh Insurance.


the 55 universities in the study, students at one institution had a level of satisfaction at just 57% with the quality of guidance on long term opportunities from their academic staff. | Graduate Recruiter 17


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