Recruit a placement student

Employing a high calibre student on a placement can be a great way to inject new ideas into your organisation, benefit from subject-specific knowledge or get help with completing a project. It can also help you create a talent pipeline for the future.

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Most students are able to undertake a year-long placement, in the UK or overseas, usually at the end of their 2nd/penultimate year.  Placements normally last a minimum of 38 weeks and students are supported by the University throughout the duration of their placement.

Creating a placement opportunity

Offering a work placement is an excellent way to utilise the knowledge and expertise of current students to complete a task, project or bring fresh ideas to your organisation.  It can also be an effective way to create a talent pipeline in a cost-effective, tried and tested manner, enabling you to fill your graduate roles ahead of the competition.

A successful placement is one that is well thought through and provides mutual benefits and positive outcomes for both the student and employer.   


Ideas for projects

There are many pieces of work that might be suitable to offer as a placement, such as:

• Conducting surveys, analysing data and producing reports

• Investigating efficiency and cost-saving activity

• Developing new products or services

• Managing or delivering a particular service for a period of time

• Joining specific teams to assist in the delivery of their activities and projects


Placement duration

You can offer a placement on a full or part-time basis from as little as two weeks up to 12 months.

Students can work part-time alongside their studies, or full-time for a fixed period during vacations or as a year-long placement.  Other students may choose to take a year out to gain work experience before their final year.


Developing the placement

When considering offering a placement, it is useful to think about the following:

The purpose of the placement

Have a clear outline of the work to be undertaken. Clearly identified desired outcomes or results will provide the student with clarity; enabling them to plan their work and set objectives. It can also provide an important frame of reference to help them reflect on their experience.

Person requirements

It is important that the student’s knowledge, skills and expertise match the project requirements. Consider whether technical capabilities or subject-specific knowledge are essential. However, don’t be tempted to focus on particular disciplines unnecessarily, as this can reduce the number of potential applicants and you may miss out on candidates who may bring something different to your organisation.

Operational details

Duration, preferred start date, location and salary are important to address and include in your advert. Before the placement commences, identify an appropriate line manager that the student will report to and consider assigning them a mentor, if appropriate.


Advertising your placement

You can advertise your placement free of charge on Career Connect


If you need further support

Contact us: Email: careers@sheffield.ac.uk; Tel: 0114 2220900

Year-long placements - what to expect

All of our students have the opportunity to undertake a placement year at the end of their penultimate year (excl. students studying Medicine, Dentistry & Health). Some students do this by enrolling on a Year in Industry course, predominately in the areas of engineering and science. Others can undertake a ‘Degree with Employment Experience’ which adds a placement year to their course.


Placement Requirements

A year-long placement should:

• be full-time (35-40 hours per week) for at least 38 weeks

• pay at least the National Minimum Wage

• be of undergraduate level

• be related to their degree course or to their future graduate career aspirations.  The suitability of a placement is assessed and approved by the student’s academic department.


Health and Safety

Students remain fully registered at the University of Sheffield for the duration of their placement and we have a duty of care to ensure that, so far as reasonably practicable, students are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Once a student has secured a placement with you, we will send you a Letter of Expectation which needs to be signed and returned prior to a student commencing their placement. This sets out the responsibilities of you as the placement provider, the University and the student. It also provides us with assurance that you have appropriate insurance and health and safety measures in place to cover the student during the placement period.

At the start of the placement, the student should be given a comprehensive briefing on the health and safety policies of the organisation, including site specifics. They will be asked to complete and return to the University an Induction Checklist, confirming that this has taken place.

If you are asking students to opt out of the European Working Time Directive, please could you let us know and explain clearly to the placement student what this means.


Placement Supervision

The student should be assigned a supervisor, in the form of a line manager, for the duration of their placement. You may also like to assign a mentor to support the student.


Monitoring Process

There should be at least one visit by an academic member of staff to monitor the progress of the placement for both the student and the organisation. This meeting should be attended by the student, their line manager and/or their assigned mentor. For overseas placements, this may constitute SKYPE contact.

In order for the University to maintain accurate records and effective communication with the student on their placement, we need to know if the main work location of the student changes. For example if they are asked to move to a different site for longer than two weeks at a time.

Due to UKVI regulations, the University will contact organisations at certain points throughout the placement to confirm that the student is in regular attendance.


Student appraisal and assessment

The appraisal of performance is a crucial element of the work experience for the student and should be integral to the structure of the placement. Feedback should be a continuous process and will help to maximise the contribution of the student to your organisational objectives. Where there are formal appraisal processes in place, we suggest that the student be included in these wherever possible.

Students are assessed by the University whilst on placement, which enables them to apply appropriate knowledge and skills from their course of study in a workplace environment and reflect on their development of a range of transferable skills over the course of their placement.   They are set key pieces of work and are advised to have a draft outline of their report available to show the visiting tutor during their mid-placement visit. It is helpful if students can be granted permission to disclose internal organisational information for the purposes of their assessment; confidentiality agreements can be put in place if required.


Internet access

Students will need access to the internet for online learning materials provided by The University. If you are unable to offer students internet access, please let us know so that alternative arrangements can be made.


Resolving issues during the placement

It is hoped that with effective monitoring and communication during the placement, any problems can be resolved easily and with minimum disruption. Review and disciplinary procedures should be applied as for any other member of staff employed by your organisation. If a problem cannot be resolved, one month’s notice from either the placement provider or the placement student is required in order for the placement to be terminated. The University should be informed at all stages of the disciplinary process. Placements should not be terminated without prior consultation between the student, the University and the placement provider.

The University may advise the student to leave a placement if they feel the health and safety of the student is being compromised in any way.


Next Steps

Advertise your placement via Career Connect


If you need further support

Contact us: Email: careers@sheffield.ac.uk; Tel: 0114 2220900

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