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    How our award-winning work on Career Prospects makes the difference

    2 May 2024

    Harper Adams has once again been voted the best University in the UK for Career Prospects in the WhatUni Student Choice awards.

    In this guest blog, Careers Advisor and Service Manager Maria Simpson explains what it means to win the award for the eighth time in a row – and some of the work which Harper Adams does with our students around Careers and Placements to boost their career prospects.

    Two women in black formal dresses and a man in black tie stand in front of a Whatuni logo holding an award

    Maria Simpson (centre) collects a trophy at a previous awards ceremony with Careers Advisor Jill Freeman and Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan.

    The fact that the Student Choice awards are voted for by our students really does make them meaningful – and it is wonderful to see the University rated best in the UK once again for Career Prospects.

    With more than 99 per cent of Harper Adams University students in work or further study after they complete their degrees, we are a University for whom careers and placements have always been key. All our undergraduate courses developed in partnership with industry employers, with these employers engaging in teaching across all years of study.

    Unlike some Universities, this focus on Careers and Placements is treated as an integral and intrinsic part of each of the courses – with a compulsory year in industry literally at the heart of nearly every Undergraduate degree, from Agriculture to Zoology.

    Students credit these placements with building their confidence through hands-on experience, and employers say they see them as an investment in the future of their sectors.

    Our focus on Careers begins even before our students join us, and continues once they graduate – both in terms of support and also in the strong relationships built between our students and the University.

    As soon as a prospective student sets foot on the Harper Adams campus, our Careers Service is there to help – with pre-applicant advice and pre-entry guidance, informed by data on why students have chosen their degree course with us.

    Both Open Days and Offer Holder Days are an initial first step towards a prospective student’s degree – and their future career.

    In the first year, students are signposted to the Careers Service through their course tutors and engagement begins.

    Resource information is available 24/7 online and can be accessed through the online Learning Hub for both placement preparation and the graduate journey.

    Students can choose self-guided exploration of resources or dedicated one-to-one help, and can personalise their experience by choosing a level of interaction that works best for them

    In the second year, students’ attention begins to turn towards finding a placement for their third year – with each student working to secure their own in an industry of their choice.

    Drawing on the expertise from three teams - Placement Managers, the Placement Office and the Careers Service - students receive comprehensive support and guidance to find a placement tailored to their future career aspirations.

    This support by interdisciplinary teams is focused first through Placement Managers, who are aided by the Placement and Office supported by the Careers Service.

    The focus through Placement Managers – who are subject specialists in the course teams teaching a particular degree – means students have a point of contact with a direct understanding of the industry the student is working in – and, usually, with industry experience themselves.

    With a  placement secured, each year, hundreds of Harper’s third year students spend twelve months in industry, gaining vital practical experience.

     In this video, Placement Manager and Principal Lecturer Alastair Boot discusses some of the ways in which Harper Adam placements help our students.

    On their return to Harper Adams for their final year of study, students will often focus their final year Honours Research Project – or dissertation – on aspects of their placement or a particular area which it has highlighted needs research.

    They may choose to discuss this with employers at the Careers Fairs which are hosted at Harper Adams – or, of course, to seek a graduate role in industry, either through their Placement employer or through discussing the hands-one experience they have gained during their year in industry at one of the fairs.

    More than 200 employers are represented each year at these fairs in the autumn term – a general Careers Fair and one covering the University’s Land, Property and Environment courses – as well as at a new Interprofessional Careers Day, organised alongside the Harper and Keele Vet School for Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Nursing and allied professions which was launched in January 2024.

    These fairs often welcome graduates back to talk about their careers, too – meaning a strong bond between our alumni and current students is both forged and renewed – something which is definitely borne out in our reputation for Career Prospects!


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