Government says all students should get internships

Joanna Thom

A government report last Tuesday stated that all university students should complete an internship.

The report, headed by Professor Sir Tim Wilson, said that getting students to complete internships would make employment opportunities fairer and it stated that students could have up to 12 weeks of work experience when they graduate.

However, it also concluded that in the case of unpaid internships, universities should use their hardship funds to help poorer students finance them. Although an attractive opportunity to enhance their skills in a particular field, students are often put off unpaid internships as they cannot afford not to earn money during their holidays.

Additionally costs associated with travelling to and from internships can be high.

For some it is not possible to stay at home while partaking in an internship and these costs can prevent the work experience from being a reality.

Universities minister David Willets welcomed the report. He stated that it would be a legitimate use of the office for fairer access funding if they contributed towards the cost of internships for poorer students.

The report also warned employers against using a filter for jobs which is based on A-Level scores, having a 2:1 or higher and attending a particular set of universities, as it felt this could discriminate against students from poorer homes.

This filter is commonly used by employers to make the first cut when applications for jobs are high.

However, if a greater number of students took on internships, employers could potentially have a greater variety of ways in which to filter students and ensure that they gain the most well qualified candidates.

Most students were happy with the report and agreed that internships were a great way to get ahead in the job market. One said: “You gain skills from internships that you simply can’t get from a degree.

“They offer you a great insight into real working life and are the best way to decide whether you actually want to start a career in that field”.

A few however did not take such a positive approach to it with one claiming that although internships were beneficial, “encouraging all students to take them will just make it harder to get one. They’re competitive enough as they are and unless companies start to offer more internships, then it will just make finding them harder”.

Mr Willets said that the government would look at the recommendations of the report before responding to it.

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