The University of Limerick (UL) is one of five finalists for the Best University Placement award as part of the Undergraduate Employability Awards given to institutions that excel in undergraduate placements for work experience.
UL was one of 350 other universities selected for the category and was the only Irish higher-education institution to be selected as a finalist.
UL was selected on the basis of the innovative nature, scale, extensive international dimension and inclusivity of its Cooperative Education (work placement) programme.
UL’s Cooperative Education programme is the largest placement programme in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe, with an average of 1,700 students being placed in various sectors annually.
Growth of work placements
Uptake of placements in the college has been strong, with about 20pc of students opting to undertake international work placements across 25 countries in companies in the financial services, biotechnology, IT, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, legal and education sectors.
“This is a huge achievement for an Irish university and is a significant acknowledgement of the university’s commitment to employability and its connectedness to industry,” said Prof Paul McCutcheon, vice-president academic and registrar of UL. “We look forward to the awards ceremony in London in March.”
The other four finalists include the universities of Nottingham, Aston, Huddersfield (Times Higher University of the Year 2013) and Coventry (School of Computing and Engineering).
UL’s head of careers, Patrice Twomey, believes that given the demand for jobs in the current market, the need for work placements from graduates is arguably essential as companies begin to look at them more as an essential than a plus: “Placements can often give students a significant advantage in the graduate job market as employers seek ‘fit for purpose’ graduates.
“Research shows that students who undertake a placement have a clearer career direction and enjoy a higher rate of employment. This is certainly true – our graduate employment rates trend consistently above the national average for the university sector.”