Gaining relevant work experience has never been more vital for undergraduates in helping them gain employment or securing competitive places for further study. Placements come in all shapes and sizes be it a 1 year position in industry, GP shadowing, a summer research project or an exchange abroad and student motivations and perceptions to undertake these opportunities are often presumed.
This research project started earlier this year in collaboration with University of Liverpool (Dr Lu Vieira de Mello) and Kingston University, London (Dr Nigel Page). An electronic survey was circulated to life science undergraduates and we got 292 respondents. Focus groups with students have also been run to gain further insight into motivations and any potential barriers students face which might stop them seeking these opportunities. The survey has now closed and has found some interesting patterns and themes across the three institutions. Student demographics have also been investigated as part of this work to evaluate any other potential factors that may affect perceptions and uptake of placements. Closer analysis of School data on placements is also being done including sex, nationality and exam performances and whether undertaking a placement has any effect on academic performance. It is hoped that this work can be used at a School level to enhance support and opportunities but also be disseminated to the wider community.
Many thanks to ERDP for supporting this research both with study support and with development grant.
Vanessa Armstrong, School of Biomedical Sciences