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The internship gap: private-schooled students twice as likely to undertake internships as state-schooled students

Grace Okon, Brand Marketing Executive

Nottingham UK, June 2018

  • Private-schooled students in British universities have internship advantage over students who went to state schools
  • Students from London twice as likely to do internships as those from Cardiff
  • UNiDAYS report shows that a fifth of students can’t do internships as the cost is too high, while just one in eight internships comes with a salary

Students at British universities who have been to fee-paying secondary schools are two-and-a-half times more likely to do an internship this summer than those who had a state education.

The UNiDAYS survey of 2,000 British students showed that nearly a quarter (23%) of private-schooled students have internships lined up this summer, compared to less than one in ten (9%) for state school pupils.

The internship gap is equally stark when it comes to students from families of different incomes. While 18% of students whose parents earn £80,000-100,000 will do internships this summer, just 9% of those from families earning £15,000-30,000 will get the same opportunity.

The data showed that while students think internships can help them get ahead in their career, they can’t necessarily afford them. Though 65% of students overall believe they’re a valuable way of getting experience in the working world, fewer than half (49%) of students with a state school background can afford the expense of relocating away from home for six weeks (compared to 62% for private school students).

Mai Fenton, EMEA Marketing Director of UNiDAYS, the world’s largest student affinity network, said: “Internships are becoming increasingly essential in getting the best graduate jobs, and 57% of students rightly believe they can help you get ahead in your career. However, students from private schools are far more likely to get these opportunities, putting students from state schools at a significant disadvantage.

“UNiDAYS understands that being a student in Britain today often involves facing tough decisions about your finances and your career. That’s why the app offers exclusive deals and savings on the things that matter to students, such as books, laptops, insurance and mobile phones.”

More than a third (36%) of students believe there aren’t enough good internship opportunities outside of London, and students who live in London are twice as likely to be doing an internship than those who live in Cardiff.

Just one in eight (13%) internships is paid, according those doing summer placements, but the average student has just £395 available to invest in a summer internship. The result was somewhat skewed by students with plenty of money to spare. Some 47% of people have £200 or less to part with. A worrying 18% of those doing internships will be funding the opportunity with credit cards, loans or their overdraft.

Despite the cost, 65% of students think that internships present a valuable way of getting experience in the working world, while 49% believe they can lead directly to a graduate job.

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