Opportunities Gap

Attending University and gaining a degree is a major step in helping you to land your dream job. However it is really important to think about your CV and what other experiences you can add to it, to show you're a really employable graduate with the right skills. Your President: Activities, Bryan Pepple recognises this and as part of his Enhancing Employability Campaign has been working closely with the University to:

- improve support for international students who are looking for placements;

- increase relevant information on placements and sandwich years so it is clear what to expect; and 

- to ensure there is more access to student jobs while studying.

International students come to the university to gain as much out of their time as possible. A placement gives them the opportunity to develop key knowledge and skills related to their degree. A number of international students have told me that they didn’t think the right support was available to enable international students to get on a placement or that they weren’t aware of how they could access placements with individual companies.

Progress so far:

I’ve done extensive research on what support is offered by lots of universities across the UK and checked this against support at Sunderland. Taking this information, I approached the Student Journey and Gateway teams to meet and discuss issues. As a result, the International Student Support team have updated their website with new information about changing Tier 4 Visa to CAS and how you can make an appointment. I worked with the Sunderland Futures team to ensure that at the Graduate and Placement Fair in November, that there were companies present who could offer Tier 2 jobs. In total 11 companies which could offer Tier 2 visas, attended the event. I have also been working with the Faculty of Technology to discuss placements and opportunities, and how a workshop could be developed to assist international students to apply and go on placement. 

The University offers various programmes with placements attached and has an active work based learning and placement policy. Students also receive dedicated support to enable them to apply and be on placement. Other programmes without placement have the option of a sandwich year however there is no policy on this and support is mixed depending on Faculty and School.

Progress so far:

I have undertaken a survey on experiences of students who have been on placement and discussed issues with key members of staff within Academic Registry about sandwich years. I have also raised sandwich year placements with the Vice Chancellor. A task and finish group, chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, will be set up in the coming months to look at this issue. I will be sitting on this group and raising points from students. Look out for a new survey, to find out what you think!

I’ve been working with key members of services across the University to develop student jobs on campus within Faculties and Services. This idea would enable students to earn money and develop skills and experiences related to their degree.

Progress so far:

The Director of Student Journey asked all Deans of Faculties and Directors of Services to identify areas where jobs could be created or given to students. Unfortunately the University is unable to provide jobs at the moment, however has increased the role of and number of Student Ambassador roles and is implementing new initiatives so students can use their skills to support others. I will be continually checking if any jobs can be created and encouraging the University to think about students for roles.

In addition the Sunderland Futures team have totally updated their jobs and opportunities portal, with all opportunities (and support services) now listed in one place - TARGETconnect.