Work Experience Joint Study

  Having relevant work experience, such as a placement or internship, is valued by employers in the technology sector and can improve employment outcomes for computing graduates. However, gaining good work experience positions is competitive; some applications are unsuccessful and some students do not apply; some students feel unable to do work placements due to personal or contextual constraints. This study explores the perspectives of computing students at two UK universities, in order to identify factors that might advantage some students over others. Undergraduate computing students were surveyed at two post-1992 universities, both with large computing departments and urban campuses, one in England and one in Scotland. Seventy students from each university participated. The survey instrument drew upon several studies into student/graduate perceptions of employability initiatives, including questions about students’ knowledge and experience of work-based learning and any support within their institution. Students were asked about events they had attended, who they asked for help, whether they had applied for work experience, and the success of those applications. Questions also lightly explored students’ socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicity, to trace any influence on students’ engagement with work experience. The study drew on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capitals and playing the game to contextualise the results. The analysis showed that, while students’ socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicity had little influence on their interest in work experience, patterns of success in gaining work experience reflected worrying employment patterns highlighted in the Shadbolt review, specifically the influence of ethnicity.
Bourdieu, P. (2000). Pascalian Meditations. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Shadbolt, N. (2016). Shadbolt Review of Computer Sciences Degree Accreditation and Graduate Employability. London: BIS.

  • Start Date:

    1 February 2017

  • End Date:

    31 July 2017

  • Activity Type:

    RIO Research Funding Competition

  • Funder:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded

Project Team