Equality of opportunity for work experience? Computing students at two UK universities "play the game"

Smith Sally*, Ella Taylor-Smith, Liz Bacon, Lachlan Mackinnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


A recent UK Government commissioned study found concerning levels of unemployment among computing students from disadvantaged, black and minority ethnic backgrounds. The study highlighted that work experience was a factor in increased levels of graduate employment. As such, it is vital that students have equal access to such work experience. This study considers the availability of work experience to 140 computing students at two city centre UK universities. Data analysis considered socioeconomic background and ethnicity to determine if these influenced attitudes to work experience. While students' socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicity had little influence on their interest in work experience, patterns of success in gaining work experience reflected worrying graduate (un)employment patterns, with those from disadvantaged, black or minority ethnic backgrounds less able to secure work experience. These findings have serious implications for university and government policies promoting work experience and highlight the need for national interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-339
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Work experience
  • Computing
  • Ethnicity
  • Socioeconomic background
  • Student placement


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