Over the past year our team has been visiting universities up and down the country to find out how happy (or unhappy) students really are. Students were asked to rate and comment on a variety of issues, from their accommodation and course quality, to their students’ union and city life.
But while the university experience is about more than just the degree you finish with, you should still expect the skills you’ve earned and the advice you’ve been given during your time there to make you employable upon graduation.
We spoke to students who’d received fantastic careers advice, middle-level careers advice and some students who didn’t even know help was available or where to find it.
So what university has super-confident and super-employable students on their campus and are currently looking smugly at their new Job Prospects WUSCA award?
Job Prospects Winner: Harper Adams University
Taking home this particular WUSCA award for a third year running, Harper Adams University are clearly providing the support and the knowledge students need for the working world.
The practical courses and compulsory placement years (the majority of which are paid) were the most common compliment for the university by its students, who loved the opportunities and skill development that it provided them within their chosen interests. In fact, many said it’s why they’d chosen to attend the university in the first place, knowing job prospects was a key focus for the university.
Students also commented on the high-quality careers guidance provided by the university, explaining that the expert advice on everything from CV writing to interview techniques, as well as the extra optional courses and passionate lectures complimented the work placements perfectly.
All these positive comments are backed up by the fact that the university’s graduate employment prospects are consistently above 96%, and they even recently held joint second highest UK university graduate employment rate at 98%. Harper Adams alumni have gone on to work for prestigious companies including Jaguar, Land Rover, Faccenda and John Deere.
Students also said:
“The placement year was a real selling point of the University. The careers department are brilliant by offering one to one meetings on the regular basis to discuss the applications process and interviews.”
“I have just secured my placement with Marks & Spencer, sponsored by the Rabobank. This is a scheme that Harper Adams set up 2 years ago, helping students financially so that they can move to London for a year and complete their placement. Without the financial aid I would not be able to carry out that year of work in London without serious financial difficulty. The university also help you from first year onwards, with CVs and interview preparation. I felt well prepared when attending my interview in London.”
“Excellent connections with potential employers and large businesses. Every course has a compulsory placement year which prepares you for employment and created ties with businesses.”
2nd Place: Loughborough University
Entering the top three in this category for the fourth year running, Loughborough University has consistently made students feel employable through a mix of optional work placement opportunities and staff support.
In fact, every course at Loughborough actually has an optional work placement for a year, giving students the opportunity to develop their skills, take classroom learning to a real work environment and make valuable contacts, something which students regularly applauded the university for in their reviews.
The work experience opportunities don’t stop there though, and the University Careers Network provides additional support including CV support, organising careers fairs and arranging work placements for students. Reviewers call this service, “highly supportive”, “fantastic” and “brilliant” and often mentioned the number of regular events put on by this service.
Students were clearly aware of how much support was on offer to them too, showing that the university are promoting it adequately across their campuses. This regular communication with students about potential opportunities was regularly praised in student reviews.
With so much support and help on offer, it’s no surprise that 94% of Loughborough students are in work or further study six months after graduating.
Students also said:
“The uni has lots of careers events and extra-curricular stuff to improve employability”
“There are many placement opportunities. As an art student, my lecturers often encourage/advertise various respected art competitions, broadening our opportunities to outside of university, even while we’re here. The uni has also recently started a programme called “personal best” which is specifically for improving our skills for working in the ‘real world’
“Loughborough university is one of the best for employability and really makes sure that students not only get a good education but are able to transfer their skills into a work settings which is great.”
3rd Place: St George's, University of London
Jumping an amazing 20 places from last year, St George’s, University of London have clearly been listening to their students.
Specialising in the health sciences and medicine subjects, St George's is actually the only UK university to share a campus with a teaching hospital. With the lecture halls only a short distance away from the hospital wards, students are truly immersed in the working environment, and reviewers told us how much that’s been paying off for them in terms of developing skills, contacts in the industry and ultimately, their employability.
The university also offers career support sessions where students can receive vital advice on important topics like writing a CV and interview room tips, amongst other things.
Students were full of praise for the support and opportunities provided by the university calling it “dedicated”, “useful” and “excellent”, with particular high praise given to lecturers, who made the teaching “accessible” and “engaging”.
And with 98% of their students in work or further study six months after graduation, it’s no wonder that this university is so high in the rankings this year.
Students also said:
“We have excellent work placement sites all over London which helps us network with senior members of staff in leading hospitals across London which help us in the future.”
“We have lots of placements to improve our skills”
“Literally training us for a job”
, To see the full list of rankings check out our full table.