The PRAXIS consortium carried out a survey with the purpose of identifying the preferences of students with regards to Project/Internship courses and realizing the alignment of these preferences to the Project/Internship courses offered by higher education institutions and companies.
The survey was conducted online between October 2012 and January 2013. The PRAXIS consortium members, including Associated Partners, and a few more direct contacts from several partners were asked to participate. Each of these institutions asked their students to participate. Partners also asked local companies to participate in the survey. This survey produced 1797 responses from students, 65 from companies and 77 from higher education institutions.
Main results from the students’ point of view
A few results from this study regarding the students’ point of view may be highlighted. Students prefer a combined project/internship (53%) to a pure internship in a company (18%). A project at their home institution or research lab attracts the remaining 29%. Regarding the characteristics of the ideal team to work during a Project/Internship course, students’ preferences go for small international teams working face to face (Fig. 1).
When it comes to the ideal place to do a project/internship course (Fig. 2), students prefer their home institution or a national company. One reason that might support this preference is that, in general, students expect to get a good job prospect during the last year of their undergraduate course and the local labour market seems to be more appealing.
In general students prefer full time projects or internships (Fig. 3).
The duration of the Project/Internship course that is preferred by students matches the common semester duration (Fig. 4). The majority of students (73%) prefer durations up to 6 months. Only 18% of the students prefer longer Project/Internship courses.
Students consider that the most important criterion to select a Project/Internship is the subject, followed by the chance of getting employed (Fig. 5). The salary comes in fourth place. International experiences come in sixth place attracting 13% of the students.
From the students’ point of view, the main benefits of a Project/Internship are related to getting further experience in a specific field of their study area (Fig. 6). The chance to be employed follows the chance to work in a professional setting. The real-world experience seems to be more relevant to students than the chance to get a job immediately after completion of their Project/Internship course.
Besides the students’ point of view we have also analyzed the offer of projects and internship from both companies and higher education institutions. Figure 7 maps the students’ preferences (S) and the offer of Project/Internships from higher education institutions (H) and companies (C) taking into account the characteristics under analysis – type of Project/Internship, hosting institution, tram work, enrollment and duration. The results from our survey indicate that students’ preferences are fairly aligned to the offer from either companies or higher education institutions. However, students seem to prefer the type of Project/Internship activities offered by companies than those offered by higher education institutions.
The main results of the study show that there is a fair alignment between students’ preferences and the opportunities offered by companies and higher education institutions with regards to Project/Internship activities.
There is an opportunity for companies and mainly higher education institutions to promote Project/Internship courses developed in international teams. The companies and higher education institutions may also increment their offer of projects combined with internships which is the format preferred by students.
In general, students are aware that a Project/Internship done in a company or in close cooperation is their first chance to be employed.