Musselburgh Racecourse has hailed a student sponsorship scheme an outstanding success after appointing a marketing graduate to a full-time role.
Like many modern businesses, the East Lothian track is inundated with requests from students for lengthy work placements which due to cost and capacity they are unable to fulfil.
An approach by Edinburgh Napier University student Maiti Stirling was at first rejected but an innovative sponsorship deal was struck with Maiti’s father Colin to co-fund the placement.
Mr Stirling, the owner of Foulrice Park Racing in Yorkshire, agreed to support a three-year deal which would assist other Edinburgh Napier University undergraduates to benefit from the experience of working at the racecourse.
Following the agreement, third-year events management student Rebecca Morrison has completed a six-month stint in which she played an important role in the day-to-day operations of the track, and now Catriona Kendall is taking up the reins as the third Napier undergraduate to benefit from the sponsorship.
Musselburgh Racecourse senior operations and commercial manager, Sarah Montgomery, said she hoped other businesses would support similar sponsorships to enable student to take up placements.
She said: “We get approached all the time from university students desperately looking for opportunities but for most businesses it is unrealistic to expect them to fund 6-12 month placements. Colin Stirling’s initiative was most welcome and allowed us to take on Maiti and then Rebecca, and both have been invaluable in helping with the day-to-day running of the racecourse.
“It would be excellent if other businesses followed Foulrice Park Racing’s lead, not just in the racing industry but across all sectors, and this would help undergraduates complete this important part of their degree course.”
Edinburgh Napier University manages the application process and each appointment is made based on interviews and suitability. The racecourse is flexible about the type of roles each student fulfils and tries to match a workflow which suits individual interests, strengthen their CVs and assist with applying for jobs on graduation.
Sarah Montgomery added: “Both Maiti and Rebecca made a huge impact and we are grateful for their contribution. They worked with us through our really busy planning period in the lead up to our most successful race days, the Edinburgh Gin Edinburgh Cup and our sell-out Stobo Castle Ladies Day.
“We are now delighted that Maiti has joined us in a full-time permanent role and to welcome on board Catriona as our third Napier University placement. We hope with continued support from Foulrice Park or other businesses that this will be a programme we can support for many years to come.”
Lynn Waterston, the lecturer at Edinburgh Napier’s Business School with responsibility for marketing, hospitality and events undergraduate placements, said: “Degree courses with a work placement element require a lot of commitment from employers, so it is fantastic to see a sponsorship initiative like this succeed not only in giving students valuable experience, but also in terms of the benefits that our placement students can bring to our partner organisations."
Colin Stirling of Foulrice Park Racing, said: "From both my observations as an employer and the direct experience with both my children, I am a huge advocate of the benefits of meaningful work placements as part of a student's education. It helps both the personal development of the individual and significantly improves their attractiveness to employers when they graduate.
“It is evident that universities which offer placements as part of their courses often struggle to gain the involvement of employers to deliver the programmes. We were therefore delighted to work together with the team at Musselburgh Racecourse to come up with a plan to jointly fund the 3-year scheme to support Edinburgh Napier's Business School.
“The two placements completed so far have greatly benefitted both Rebecca and Maiti and the racecourse and I hope this success will inspire other employers to consider similar support to Napier or other universities in their locality."