Credit: Markus Winkler via Unsplash

Glasgow should do more to invest in the future careers of its students

By Rothery Sullivan

In the midst of an employment crisis, Rothery Sullivan argues that the University should follow in the footsteps of other institutions to help it’s graduates secure future employment.

A huge issue for students today is the crushing reality of graduating from university (usually with some amount of student debt) and not being able to find a job with their degree. As a student working towards an English Literature and Film/Television Studies degree, this is a major concern for me. As we know, humanities students tend to have a harder time finding jobs after university – but with the current economic climate, this issue is even more fraught. For this reason, I argue that universities should have programmes in place that give all students some sort of job placement opportunity, such as mandatory internships, co-ops (a multi-work term agreement) or a scheme that connects new graduates with alumni in their career field to guarantee a higher percentage of job placements within the first year of graduation.

Other universities in the US have similar systems to these that result in higher employment rates after graduation. For example, Northeastern University has a co-operative education programme in which students can alternate their academic semesters with semesters of full-time paid work experience. In this programme, students can take up to three co-ops, although most students who take three co-ops graduate a year later than originally planned for their degree. However, students also have the option to take summer classes in order to undertake these co-ops and graduate on time (i.e to obtain a bachelor’s degree in four years instead of five). As an established university, Northeastern has many great connections, both locally in Boston and globally, giving students a chance to work abroad if they wish to do so. This programme gives students work experience while obtaining their degree, and helps them build connections in their career fields before they graduate. Many co-ops lead to full time work placements after graduation. Of course, this program is optional, so students who do not wish to take summer classes and want to graduate on time can do so. As a result of this, 92% of Northeastern’s students report that they are either employed or enrolled in a graduate job within nine months of graduation. Since the University of Glasgow is just as established in the UK as Northeastern is in America (ranking the 11th best university in the UK by Top University), I suggest that our university should implement a similar scheme. Not only would this help current students, but it would also make our university a more desirable establishment for prospective students. 

Another programme that the University of Glasgow should consider is a Eph network, which would connect current students with alumni of the university who can help with career opportunities. For example, Williams College in the US has a programme like this where students can put together a profile and search a directory to be connected with alumni who have job openings at their place of work, internship opportunities or for general career advice. Something like this would be very beneficial to students at the University of Glasgow, as it would give students a wider choice of opportunities to apply for. 

As someone considering teaching, journalism, and jobs in the film industry, I know I would greatly benefit from a co-op programme that would allow me to try out different career paths to see which I’m most interested in. I would also benefit from a Eph network because I would be able to talk to experienced people in these fields of study who have gone to the same university as me and know about the process of going from student to professional. When students graduate, they are only usually 21-23 years old – a very young age at which to find a stable job or career they want to work in for the rest of their lives. Guidance in this area would be helpful because it would allow students to establish stable career goals while still in university, which would make them more prepared for when they graduate and must face the world on their own. 


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