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Should International Students Pursue ‘Sandwich’ Degrees?

May 13, 2016

Sandwich degrees are typically four-year study programs which include between six months and a year of relevant work placement in your 3rd year. These courses are popular amongst students due to the networking advantages and industry experience they offer, and are most commonly offered to students of science, engineering, technology and business.\r\n\r\n

Sandwich Degrees In The UK

\r\nOther reasons why international students in the UK may wish to consider a sandwich course include breaking up their studies into smaller periods, and also using it as an opportunity to study abroad. However, if used for the latter a sandwich year placement can sometimes be detrimental to foreign students.\r\n\r\nA study conducted at the University of Bath found that UK students tend to do better in their 3rd year of study after work placement than their international counterparts. One of the reasons given for this discrepancy is that some international students choose to return to their home country for their placement – something which has been proven to diminish your language fluency.\r\n \r\n

Limitations of ‘sandwich’ degrees

\r\nThis reduced grasp of the language makes it harder to use knowledge gained on placement within your studies, and it also makes it less likely you will have developed the links to acquire a job in this country if that is what you seek. \r\n\r\nTo alleviate this problem many international students are now being encouraged to take their sandwich year placement at a local company, or at the very least one which is based within the same country.\r\n\r\nIt should also be noted that the length and timing of some sandwich courses may prevent students from taking part in other work experience programs, such as summer internships and placements. \r\n\r\nMany industries prefer to fill their graduate positions with those who have worked with them before, so if your sandwich placement will not involve a position at one of your preferred employers you should consider carefully whether a shorter summer placement elsewhere may be more beneficial.\r\n\r\n

Graduate employment opportunities

\r\nHowever, if you are able to obtain a full sandwich year placement within a company you hope to work for in future then this gives you a huge advantage over your fellow graduate competitors. \r\n\r\nOver a third of all graduate positions at major companies are filled by former interns or placement students, and since 80% of all vacancies are not advertised externally a year’s placement offers an outstanding opportunity to hear about potential positions early.\r\n\r\nA company who is aware of your talents and how you use them on the job is far more likely to hire you than they are an untested stranger, and conversely an entire year of professional work also allows you to judge whether a particular company and sector suits your needs too. \r\n\r\nSandwich year placements help many students to narrow or adjust their focus, and realise which skills they may need to improve before entering the industry professionally.\r\n\r\n

Other potential benefits

\r\nAnd of course a placement also benefits your education in numerous ways, as not only does it allow you to test the skills you’ve already learnt in a working environment, it also helps you to gain even more insight and experience which classroom study simply cannot match. \r\n\r\nThe final year dissertations of sandwich students are often far more detailed and relevant than those without work experience, so even if you don’t plan on applying for a role at the company post-graduation, your academic scores will undoubtedly benefit from a year of work placement.\r\n\r\nChoosing whether or not to study a sandwich course is a difficult decision for international students due to the many positives and negatives associated with them. However, IEC Abroad are here to help you make the right choice for your particular ambitions, so if you need advice on whether a sandwich course is right for you feel free to contact our friendly team today.