Sandwich and Language Programmes - the Aston Advantage
- over 50 years’ experience of providing students with integrated sandwich placement opportunities. Aston was one of the pioneers of this approach to university degrees
- over 70% of our undergraduate students take sandwich or language programmes – around 1,000 students each year
- experienced and dedicated support from Placement Officers before and during your placement – praised in all our Teaching Quality Assessments
- excellent paid placement opportunities across the University’s course areas
- our students have access to password-protected Aston websites, advertising placements and giving advice
- optional Graduate Apprenticeship schemes also available alongside the placement year in some subjects
- wide range of year abroad options also available (Foreign and English Language)
Around three-quarters of our students choose sandwich or language programmes, which include an industrial, professional or language placement. The opportunity to put knowledge into practice, whilst gaining valuable professional or language experience (and in most cases, getting paid in the process), enhances our graduates’ employment prospects and enables them to make sound career decisions.
Most sandwich and language students spend the third year of a four-year programme on a placement which forms an integral part of their degree. This practical experience is recommended by many graduate employers and its importance is highlighted in government surveys and reports.
The placement year at Aston though is not a “bolt-on” year, it is an integral part of your degree for which you are prepared in your second year and encouraged to look back on in your final year.
Support in finding your placement
You will be given a lot of support and advice on finding a suitable placement and the University will keep in touch with you to ensure it is a success. Many employers return year after year to employ our placement students.
In applying for your placement, you are encouraged during your second year to contact the Placements Officer for your programme or School and check our placement notice boards/websites for advertisements of current opportunities. You then apply to the company/organisation with your CV and letter/application form. This process is supported throughout by the University, with workshops, publications and individual advice sessions. You are then usually interviewed by your potential employer, either on campus or at their office/HQ, and are told whether you have been successful. Most students apply to more than one placement employer.
The application process is therefore just like applying for a real graduate job, excellent experience in itself. Information on placement opportunities is usually available on Open Days. Please ask on the day or contact the relevant admissions tutor if you would like to know more. Aston has over 50 years’ experience of offering sandwich programmes (we pioneered this approach in the 1950s) so our support networks and industrial links are unrivalled.
A Springboard to Graduate Careers
Many Aston placements offer a foot in the door after graduation. Around one in five of our placement students gain specific offers of graduate positions by their placement employer, on completing their placement year.
Salaries and Fees
If you work for a company you can expect to be paid a salary (the average across the University is around £13,000 per year), but this is not always the case for students working in the public sector. The vast majority of placements are paid though, contributing to your finances as well as your CV. The tuition fee for your placement year is much less than the full fee at £1,500. ALL Aston students on their placement year qualify for our Aston Placement allowance of £1,000 for that year. Placements abroad (including year abroad programmes) or unpaid placements qualify for an additional £500 Aston Placement award. Students also qualify for student loans and other support on their placement year. Please see page 128 for further information about tuition fees.
Language Placements – The Year Abroad
On language placements, you can either study, work as an assistant in a school, or work for a business organisation. The year abroad will help you develop fluency in your language and an understanding of a foreign culture and society. You will be given plenty of help and guidance in choosing and arranging your placement, and support when you are abroad. Year Abroad students at Aston qualify for a total of £1,500 in our placement awards and allowances to support their placement year. See page 128 for further information.
ERASMUS/SOCRATES is an EU project to encourage a European dimension in Higher Education, including the opportunity to study abroad as part of your degree. Additional EU grants help cover the extra cost of studying abroad, (e.g. travel costs) and most of our programmes qualify for this support.
Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS)
The School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston is proud to have been chosen as one of only a handful of UK Universities to be an active participant in the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme. This scheme supports potential engineers and logistics personnel who wish to serve in the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force, Ministry of Defence and the Civil Service through the provision of bursaries and personal development using engineering and military experiences. Our overall quality, reputation and tradition of offering experience as part of our degrees has made Aston University a natural choice for this partnership. If you require further information, contact the School of Engineering and Applied Science: 0121 204 3400. Students from other parts of the University may also be eligible for this scheme.
For some of our students (particularly in the Engineering, IT, Computing and Applied Science areas) there is also the optional opportunity to combine the experience gained on the placement year with the West Midlands Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme (GA). This is a professionally recognised qualification that will further enhance your career prospects. For further information visit: www.seas.aston.ac.uk/industry/placement/studentplacement.php
What our Placement Students think...
“I was lucky enough to spend my year abroad studying at Université Laval, Québec, Canada, alongside my French-speaking counterparts.
One of the reasons I chose Aston was the industrial placement in the third year. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions! During my placement I worked as an Audience Marketing Manager at Microsoft – doing a real job, with real responsibility. It was a great way to put the theory into practice, and when I went back into my final year, have great examples of practice to illustrate the theory.
I’ve chosen to return to Microsoft as a graduate, so it’s easy to see how important my placement was for my career. The placement year was an opportunity to ‘test drive’ a job, get some real experience and can be a great way to make a name for yourself and ease the path into graduate employment.
My years experience here means that I’m able to take on responsibility much faster, allowing me to gain more experience and get a really fantastic start to my career.
Chris Rothwell, Placement at Microsoft 2004, now back at Microsoft as a Graduate
“On my Aston placement year I worked for Reuters, the global information provider in their London offices. My job role was as a Web Developer – I played a key role in helping to build some of their internal web systems and was treated as very much part of the team. I’m very glad I took a placement – I’ve learnt and experienced loads of important things that just aren’t possible in university. I was also paid a healthy £17,000 + bonuses for the year.”
Mark Boosey, BSc Internet Systems, Placement at Reuters 2004-5
“I spent my business placement year with Manor Bakeries (who make Mr Kipling, Cadbury’s and Lyons Cakes). “During my placement, I was able to put into practice, knowledge gained from my first two years and assess the integration of management and study through my placement essay (something you are required to do at Aston).
“I spent my placement year at Pfizer, a global pharmaceutical company, where I ran my own research projects and provided an analytical service carrying out chemical and biochemical analysis.
“My time with the company allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills through working as part of a team and also allowed me to broaden my communication skills through meetings and presentations. My first two years at Aston provided me with a sound basis for my placement, and I found that the laboratory work I had done at Pfizer helped me enormously with my final year practical work. It gave me a good knowledge of laboratory techniques and hugely increased my self-confidence within the lab.”
Rachel Pickard, Biology student
Placement at Pfizer