The purpose of this paper is to investigate students’ perceptions of the value, impact, benefits and disadvantages of in-house, university-based work experience vs off-campus work experience.
Three focus groups, one consisting of students who had undertaken work experience off-campus at an employers’ workplace (n=6), one consisting of students who had undertaken work experience in-house with a university-based employer (n=6), and a third mixed group (n=6, consisting of students who had undertaken both types), were formed. Focus group data were supplemented by interviews (n=3). Data were transcribed and analysed thematically.
Based on student perceptions, both types of work experience were thought to: enhance future employment; provide career insight; enable skill/experience acquisition and application; and be useful for building relationships. Work experience that occurred in-house was, in addition, perceived to be cost effective; enabling students to be more closely supervised and supported; good for relationship building between and within students/staff; beneficial for increasing student attainment; and enabling students to see the link between theory and practice more clearly. In-house work experience was, however, deemed to be restricted in terms of variety, and links with and perceptions of external stakeholders.
The study is limited in that it is based on the perceptions of students undertaking unique types of integrated work experience within one faculty at one university.
When deciding on whether in-house or off-campus work experiences are offered, consideration should be given to level of support, supervision, observation, and travel and time costs.
Original views of students regarding in-house work experience have been gathered, which can be used to inform in-course workplace practices.
Forsyth, J. and Cowap, L. (2017), "In-house, university-based work experience vs off-campus work experience", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 229-239. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-11-2015-0054
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