Placements:The key to giving students and universities a…

Posted: 03/07/2018

Placements:The key to giving students and universities a competitive edge

With the workplace becoming more and more competitive, students are giving greater precedence to schools and universities who incorporate placements (also known as work integrated learning and internships) into their courses and degrees.

Gone are the days when only medicine, engineering, nursing, education and allied health required placements through study. Now students are demanding that it be their right, across all disciplines, to have some level of real-world experience to ensure they are more appealing to employers who want job-ready candidates that have practical industry experience.

But the benefits aren’t only there for the students, in fact, schools and universities who are paving the way for placements to be incorporated within their teachings are giving themselves a powerful competitive edge and improving their position as a school of choice. Here are just three ways placements can benefit your institution.

1.Placements can improve your reputation

With work integrated learning known to create more job-ready graduates, placements give students access to greater learning opportunities beyond course syllabus and overall, a better higher education experience. This results in more satisfied students upon graduation, improving your reputation as a school of choice.

2.Placements can increase post-graduation employment levels

With the purpose of placements being to ensure students are work-ready, implementing work integrated learning can also result in better post-graduation student employment levels. This can have a profound impact on future enrolments, with students becoming increasingly aware of the need to improve their employability and job prospects after graduation.

3.Placements can enhance your standing with employers

Placements are a great opportunity for universities to develop relationships with small, medium and large local and regional businesses. If a business has a valuable, enjoyable and seamless placement experience with your institution, they are likely to come back with further placement vacancies and employment opportunities for graduates.

Placements are also a great way to showcase the calibre of your university and initiate further opportunities for collaboration such as knowledge transfer partnerships, CPD programs, research projects and teaching support.

Why aren’t more institutions offering placements?

With this being the case, you would think that more higher education institutions would be implementing placements. However, traditionally speaking, finding host organisations and securing placements haven’t always been that easy.

The biggest challenge, as you may have experienced, is finding the right placement, at the right time that is of appropriate quality for the student. This is also amplified by poorly documented processes that cause confusion around what is required, ineffective communication with past host organisations and no centralised processes to manage and nurture relationships with host organisations university-wide.

We often find that one faculty may have a great relationship with a business, so while their students are offered regular placements, opportunities are missed for students across other faculties. For instance, a company may be able to offer a placement to a marketing student, but also to an accounting and legal student across their various departments. But the full extent of the relationship has not been explored, as it’s not known or shared university-wide.

Overcoming placement challenges to become a school of choice

The good news is that many of these challenges and frustrations, can be solved or at minimum understood with business process improvement. Taking the step to identify your ‘as is’ processes and your future ‘to be’ processes will identify current roles, systems and processes and uncover the gaps and inefficiencies to inform an ideal high-level process for the future. This then forms an implementation plan to progress towards your desired to be state.

DVE recently worked with the UniSA Business School who wanted to implement mandatory placements for every student to improve study programs and make sure students were job-ready.

To ensure that placements were managed seamlessly, data was stored centrally, outcomes were measurable and staff worked more efficiently, we mapped out their current and ideal processes, implemented a solid framework to manage placements including the appointment of a new Placements Coordinator and assisted with the rollout of a pilot program before the new system took effect.

As a result, the Business School’s study programs improved significantly by offering real world experience to all students to make them job-ready. Implementing mandatory placements also helped improve their position as a school of choice. You can get a copy of the full case study here.

With documented processes, greater communication, better relationship management, sharing of placements across disciplines within your institution and a Placement Management System that can give you one centralised area of storing all documents and information, there is no reason why you too can’t experience the same results.

Are your current processes holding your students and organisation back? Contact us today on 1800 870 677 to find out how you can position your organisation as a school of choice and give your students greater opportunities to be job-ready.