What is a ‘sandwich’ course and why take one?
A so-called ‘sandwich’ course is a degree course that includes time spent on a placement, often in industry or business, away from the university. ‘Sandwich’ courses can be ‘thick’ with one long placement or ‘thin’ with two or more shorter periods on a placement and are favoured by a number of high ranking universities.
A number of UK universities including Bath, Lancaster, Surrey, Loughborough and Aston are particularly keen for students to take advantage of this type of course. At the University of Bath, for example, most of the undergraduate degree courses have the option for students to take a ‘sandwich year’. Placements usually take place after the second year of the degree course, so students will spend the first two years of their degree studying at Bath, followed by a ‘sandwich’ year on placement before returning for their final year(s) of studies.
Modern Language courses typically follow this pattern with Year 3 being spent abroad either teaching in a school, studying at a university or working in an industrial placement. A large number of other subjects offer placements and include Business, Engineering, Finance, Psychology and Sport Studies.
Although ‘sandwich’ courses are usually one year longer as a result of the placement there can be significant advantages:
- An edge when applying for graduate careers. In a competitive graduate job market, employers are increasingly looking for applications that stand out, and a good work placement helps students to do just that.
- The development of skills and understanding that will help during the remaining year(s) of study.
- Insight into potential areas of employment.
- The possibility of full-time employment with the placement company after graduation.
- Insight into how the principles, skills and knowledge developed during the course are applied in a work environment.
- If the placement is in a relevant field, the student may be able to attract a higher starting salary or a more senior position upon graduation.
‘Sandwich’ courses do not appeal to all students, with some seeing a placement as an unwelcome interruption to full time study. However, if the university subject being studied is vocational, it is certainly worth considering and it is important to check the following:
- The amount of assistance the university gives in finding a placement.
- The variety of placements available and the selection criteria.
- The amount of support given by the university whilst on placement.
- Whether/how the student’s performance on placement is assessed as part of the ultimate degree result.
- Whether the student will be paid whilst on placement.
- The fees due to the university whilst the student is on placement
Do you have a question about the different types of courses on offer at UK universities? Need some help with a UCAS application? Contact the UKSO team on firstname.lastname@example.org.