What to expect from a sandwich course

Now the term has firmly started at university, we thought it was the perfect time to start our series of academic guides for you here at Almero Student Mansions.

Although we like to give you guys a good mix of lifestyle pieces, food and drink articles and features on how best to spend your student loan, we are well aware that you will need some help with the more studious aspects of university as well.

As such, today’s instalment of the Almero Student Mansions blog focuses on what you can expect from your sandwich course. A sandwich degree is quite a popular concept these days with many subjects and indeed universities offering it. So, true to Almero form; you can find all you need to know about sandwich year placements below.

What Is a Sandwich Course?

Let’s start with the obvious bit, and what the term sandwich course actually means. The name comes from the fact that the course includes a placement year which is sandwiched between two conventional years at your chosen college or university.

Sandwich courses are actually more common amongst business-related subjects, but can also be found in a variety of other subjects, these include:

  • Engineering

  • Computer science

  • Mathematics

  • Humanities

You will also find that some companies in your sector or industry run sandwich courses in partnership with universities. If this is the case with your institution, then you will be able to find out a lot more regarding this in their prospectus, or even by visiting their careers guidance centre.

Thick & Thin Sandwich Year Placements

Something that has developed with sandwich courses at the university over the years, is the concept of ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ courses.

As the name suggests, a ‘thick’ sandwich course means that the course could last for a year and ‘thin’ could last for 6 months. Some students prefer to do more studying at university and just bolsters this with a smaller placement and vice versa, this is absolutely possible by opting for one of the thick and thin sandwich placements that are offered at universities around the UK.


Thickness of a Sandwich

How Advantageous Are Sandwich Year Placements?

Ultimately, the question on most students’ minds is whether or not a sandwich placement is a good idea for their studies? The answer is fairly conclusive given that employers see students with experience as well as qualifications as a lot more employable than those without.

Background Stats on Sandwich Courses

In fact, The Graduate Market in 2013 report from High Fliers found that over half of high-profile graduate employers featured in the Times Top 100 employers offered proper industrial work experience for students as part of a university course. This really is best achieved through the completion of a sandwich course at a reputable university.

Of these, half offer work experience placements during university breaks and holidays.

Furthermore, in excess of half of these recruiters said they’d be unlikely to offer a job to a graduate without any work experience (again, making the completion of a sandwich course a complete no-brainer). Indeed, no matter how good a graduate’s academic results or if they'd attended a 'top university', with none of this aforementioned experience these results are really academic.

Student Working on Mac

Sandwich Courses: A Conclusion

As a final note, the survey shows that some employers now expect to fill most of their vacancies using students who have done work experience with them in the past. They will know exactly what these candidates offer compared to taking a punt on a new recruit who may have the qualifications, but simply not have the work ethics they are searching for.

More than half the vacancies at law firms and three-quarters of those at investment banking firms interviewed were expected to go to work experience trainees.

As you can see the merits of completing a sandwich course are significant and could well be the ideal way for you to break into the industry you desire. Beware though, as with most things in academia and indeed, the world of work, a sandwich course is not perfect for every sector out there.

Be sure to chat with your prospective tutors and course leaders to check that there are sufficient work experience opportunities in your given field, or you could find the filling of your sandwich rather hard to come by. Similarly, not all subjects at all universities are compatible; so, ensure you do your sandwich course due diligence before you make a hasty decision!