Applying to university can always be a confusing thing to do, what with all of the different types of degrees available to students. Whether it be a Bachelor’s degree, a PGCE degree, a Master’s degree or a normal undergraduate degree, keeping up with what degree can be studied and when can be a confusing thing to have to worry about.
One of the most popular degrees for a student to study when at university is a sandwich degree or sandwich course, as it is sometimes known.
What is a sandwich course?
A sandwich course is a university degree that includes a placement of some kind. A placement is where you spend time out in the big bad world of work. You will be expected to work in the industry related to your course.
For instance, if you are studying a Sports Science degree at university, then you will be expected to do a work placement at a company related to your degree, by finding work as a Personal Trainer or as a Physiotherapist.
Those looking to work abroad may be able to combine this with study on the Erasmus Programme, however, you can study abroad without the Erasmus Programme as it is, so you don’t need to worry too much about signing up to the Erasmus Programme, just to work abroad.
Most university placements tend to happen in your third year.
How long is my placement on a sandwich course?
This really depends on the course itself and depends on the university that you’re at. You have two types of sandwich degrees, “thick” or “thin”.
A “thick” sandwich course is a continuous placement that generally lasts a year. A “thin” sandwich course is made up of two or more placements. Your placements can take as long as is necessary, but you will generally find that most placements last for a year.
Are placements optional as part of a sandwich course?
Not as part of a sandwich course. If you are not interested in taking a placement away from your studies, then we don’t recommend that you take a sandwich course when at university.
Some universities have made placements and sandwich degrees mandatory in certain subjects. Universities such as the University of Bath or Lancaster University have started to set a trend among universities in the UK, by introducing a number of mandatory placements for those studying certain subjects.
Is there any advantage to studying a sandwich course?
Studying a sandwich course will mean that you will stand out from other candidates with no work experience in your chosen sector.
When applying for a job, most companies are looking for people with formal qualifications in this area and for people with experience in this sector.
For example, if you are looking to become an Accountant, the company you are applying to will want you to have an Accountancy degree and experience. If you are studying a sandwich course as part of your degree, you will have the all-important experience required!
The course will also give you some valuable insight into the world you’re learning about and will allow you to learn more and more about the industry, not just the theory.
For the most part, you will be expected to find your own placements, but your university will always lend a helping hand.
Can a sandwich course affect my earning potential?
Yes, it can, in a good way!
This is not always going to happen of course, but a number of companies tend to increase your starting salary as a result of your experience in this field. You might even be able to attract a higher position in the company, rather than having to settle for an entry-level position.
How much assistance will my university give me with finding a placement?
This really depends on the university that you’re at.
When it comes to a sandwich course uni, some universities expect you to find your own placements and to contact the companies and handle all of this yourself. For the most part, you will be expected to find your own placements, but your university will always lend a helping hand, whether that be a character reference or aiding you in your application.
Some universities have also been known to have pre-determined placements for students available, though this is rare. It’s best to ask your university prior to application or at a university open day.
When will my placement take place?
Again, this can vary depending on your chosen university and course and really depends on what you’re studying.
However, most university placements tend to happen in your third year. It really depends on the course that you’re studying and depends on the university itself as well.
Can I work abroad as part of a sandwich course?
As we said above, it can depend on your obligations to the Erasmus Programme, but if you haven’t signed up to the Erasmus Programme, then you can still work abroad.
Working abroad will, of course, require you to look into working Visas for working abroad and European Health Insurance as well, but there’s no reason why your placement can’t take place abroad if you want to.
A “thick” sandwich course is a continuous placement that generally lasts a year. A “thin” sandwich course is made up of two or more placements.
Will I be entitled to any grants, bursaries or scholarships for my placement?
You will still be covered for any bursaries, grants or scholarships that you have as part of your university course, even when taking a university placement.
Some students still require their travel to be covered by the university, so the university’s student travel grant can still be used, even when you’re on your placement.
So there you have it! Everything that you need to know about a sandwich course at university. If you have any specific questions, then we recommend speaking to your university directly and seeing what the university’s stance is about certain issues or topics.