What are “sandwich placements” in the UK?

Want to be career ready? The UK sandwich placement is designed just for that! Sometimes called a sandwich year, program or course, it is a validated work experience opportunity (up to a year) that is usually taken in the penultimate year of a 4 year degree. Let’s explore what it is and some of the benefits. This is solely focused on opportunities for students studying in the UK, so if that’s your aspiration – keep reading.

Gain work experience while you are studying

Sandwich placements in the UK include (up to) a year-long work placement in industry, allowing you an opportunity to gain practical experience and develop professional skills. Placements are popular among students who want to enhance their employability and establish valuable networks in their field.

Type of sandwich placement

Here are the types of sandwich placement in the UK and the differences between the two:

 Thick SandwichThin Sandwich
  • 1st, 2nd, and 4th year – academic years
  • 3rd year – sandwich placement
This involves multiple placement or sandwich periods instead of one continuing year between academic years.
PlacementDuring the sandwich year, you can study at a partner university (outside the UK), work in an industrial setting, or teach in a school.Your university will offer internships with UK-based organizations or anywhere worldwide.
Opportunity sectorsWider opportunities such as: 

  • History
  • Geography
  • Forensics
  • Engineering
  • Politics
  • Business
  • Sociology
Specific opportunities in:

  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Sport Studies
  • Psychology

Sandwich vs. full-time placement in the UK

The primary difference between a sandwich and a full-time program is the crucial work experience offered by the former. If you wish to have an unbroken academic curriculum, you are better off opting for a regular program. But if you’re looking for solid exposure to a professional environment while you’re still studying, the incredibly popular sandwich placements in the UK are the way to go.

Compared to a full-time program, which only affords you around 12-15 weeks between semesters or trimesters to secure an internship, a sandwich placement lets you get placed and work for an extended period as a regular employee before returning to classes.

Additionally, many universities offering sandwich placements now promise mandatory placements for select disciplines like engineering, business, design, and psychology.

Before enrolling in a sandwich placement, however, you should evaluate the following things:

  • The commitment of the university toward securing placements for its students. The major reason why someone pursues a sandwich placement is to gain work experience. If the university you enroll in can’t offer you desirable placement options, you should reassess your options.
  • Many universities list prospective placement options on their website itself. You can go through them before seeking admission and determine whether the scope of these options aligns with your goals.
  • University’s support during your placement session. Even though you’ll be taking a complete break from your academics during your period, ensuring that you have your university’s support is crucial. In that way, should you run into any difficulty in the professional environment, your university will support you.

Benefits of a sandwich placement

Let’s look at some of the additional benefits of a sandwich placement.

  • Sandwich placements help you gain priceless hands-on experience, helping you to get real world experience with the industry that you are interested in, all while you’re still in university. These insights put you in a much stronger position when you finish uni.
  • You will receive a stipend from the organization you get placed in. This will assist you financially.
  • At graduation, you will hold a competitive edge over your peers from full-time placement as you’d already be equipped with the networks that will get you a foot in the door.
  • If the organization you’re interning with is impressed with you, receiving an offer from them may be a possibility. Impress them a lot and you could have a job to go to before you have completed your studies!

Eligibility for sandwich placement

There are some basic eligibility criteria for sandwich placements. Let’s take a look at them.

  • English proficiency tests such as TOEFL/IELTS
  • Academic transcripts
  • GMAT/GRE scores for master’s degrees.
  • Letter of recommendation (LOR)
  • Statement of purpose (SOP)

Also, it is important to remember that not all universities in the UK offer sandwich placements. Make sure you check if this is an option.

How to apply for a sandwich placement in the UK

Applying for a sandwich placement in the UK requires some serious effort; here’s how you do it:

  • Assess your academic interests, and look up universities and placements to determine the ones best suited to you.
  • Once you have shortlisted the universities of your choice, plan the application process. This requires you to be aware of all the deadlines so that you can work on securing your LOR and getting your SOP ready in time.
  • Take the requisite proof of English proficiency tests and other competitive exams necessary to determine your eligibility for the program.
  • Once your test scores and documents are ready, get started with the application process via the admission portals on the university websites.

The process will be worth it

Getting into a sandwich placement can be the most rewarding experience and contributing factor to set you on the path to your dream job. However, the process of enrolling into one can be quite challenging, especially if you are new to this. After all, identifying aligned universities, processing your applications, getting everything right in the first go, and living and studying in the UK isn’t for the faint hearted. That’s where we can step in to support you. We want you to achieve your potential – because your dreams deserve a helping hand!

Committed to empowering students to have the most rewarding experience of studying abroad, Gradstar helps translate your dreams into action and offers key direction and support. From your first appointment, until you land in your dream university in the destination country, Gradstar provides seamless support throughout. Book your appointment today.

Date Published: May-30-2023

Our Dream Makers are expert listeners, educators, career consultants and student supporters. They co-design your study abroad experience with you to empower you to reach for the stars. Because dreams deserve a helping hand.

About the author

This blog was written by Gradstar Global Education.