Placements and degree performance:do placements lead to better marks, or do better students choose placements?


There has been a strong move recently to make degrees more applicable to employment; including work placements as part of the programme is one way of achieving this. Such placements are advocated to increase employability, but also for improving academic performance. This paper examines the relationship between undertaking a work placement and the class of degree achieved. It challenges earlier findings that undertaking a placement increases degree results. Studying seven cohorts of students, a well tested approach was employed that allows for sample selection – i.e. whether better students do placements rather than whether placements produce better students. The paper concludes that the sample selection is much stronger, i.e. placement students do better because they are better students. The results highlight that it is not merely doing a placement that matters, but a successful placement adds significantly to subsequent performance. The paper concludes with advice to students and policy makers.



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