Research Output

Taking education for granted: the role of placement in computing science

  The importance of placements and internships was highlighted in the 2016 Shadbolt Review of Computer Science Degree Accreditation and Graduate Employability – indeed the second recommendation of the review was to extend and promote work experience . Evidence of positive outcomes from work experience are listed in the report and elsewhere; however, not all students enjoy equality of access to work placements. This study explored the experiences of computer science graduates who had registered in one a Scotland-wide placement scheme: e-Placement Scotland or Careerwise Scotland. Since 2010, over 4000 computing students have registered to search for placements with e-Placement Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Funding Council to work with employers to create paid work opportunities for computing students studying at any Scottish university or college. Careerwise Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government, organises places for female STEM students studying at Scottish universities.
The study was designed explore how students construct narratives as graduates with a view to considering the impact of work placement on their self-identification and graduate careers. The study was designed to explore the experiences of all students who registered, on either scheme, and have now graduated – whether or not they did a placement. Initial perspectives were gathered via an online questionnaire in autumn 2016. The questionnaire covered demographic information, with a view to revealing some influence of students’ backgrounds on the take-up and completion of placements together with participants’ early career paths. A second phase conducted working life narratives through semi-structured interviews. The overall aim of the study was to provide valuable information, to policy makers, academics, students, and employers, to improve the promotion and implementation of placements; but also to surface any real or perceived barriers to engaging with placement and other forms of work experience in meaningful ways. We will present initial findings from the study.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    29 June 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Smith, S., Smith, C., Taylor-Smith, E., & Gemma, W. (2017, June). Taking education for granted: the role of placement in computing science. Presented at Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland



Work experience, placements,

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