Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Paper presented at the ASET annual conference, University of Leicester, 8 September 2010.


There has been an increasing focus on personal transferable skills by universities (Albrecht and Sack 2000). This has led to considerable growth in the number of placement programmes in undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). As noted by Paisey and Paisey (2009) relatively little research has been carried out in this domain. This paper explores the state of non-clinical placement programmes in third level institutes in Ireland. It presents the results of the first comprehensive survey of placement in Irish. The survey reveals the scale and scope of work placement programmes in undergraduate courses in Ireland. With more than three hundred courses incorporated into this survey, it is one of the most wide-ranging studies to ever have been conducted in this field. This paper’s discussion will present contextual information on the number of third level students involved in placement programmes across the country and the types of courses in Irish HEIs (by level and discipline) which include a work placement element in their core structure. It presents several of the key obstacles facing undergraduate work placement programmes and their managers as a result of the current changes in the global economic environment. The paper presents and considers the conflicting imperatives facing employers who may previously have been enthusiastic partners in work placement programmes. It also considers the impact and likely trajectory of the paid/non-paid placement debate, and examines some of the combination models being considered at present. Finally, this paper will demonstrate how this form of engagement between education and industry can be mutually beneficial for all key stakeholders involved in work placement programmes, including employers, HEIs and third level students (Richardson and Blakeney 1998). The wide range of benefits – in particular benefits to teaching and learning - which placement programmes can generate for each of these stakeholders will be analysed.