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UK: Internships meet demand for work-study, build trade ties

Following the cancellation of the UK Post-Study Work Visa in 2012, public and private organisations in the UK are exploring new ways to still meet the high demand for work experience among international students.

OSSC provides CV and cover letter advice and a training workshop as well as an internship placement for Chinese students

Students will help to develop alumni networks in China and continue to promote trade opportunities for UK companies on their return

An increasing number of international students are enquiring about employment prior to enrolment

Two initiatives are in development to give students from China – the UK’s biggest international student market – opportunities to gain work experience through internships that also serve to bolster trade ties for UK businesses.

The Overseas Student Service Centre Ltd (OSSC), a leading recruitment consultancy for Chinese students coming to the UK, and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) are both in the early stages of programmes that organise work placement for students at local businesses.

Terence Murray, Operations Manager at OSSC, told The PIE News that an increasing number of international students are enquiring about employment prior to enrolment.

“A lot of students are quite clued up on the universities that they want to choose, so that’s no longer their first enquiry,” he said. “One of the first things they ask about is employment.”

OSCC launched its International Student Internship Scheme (ISIS) in October 2013, which places Chinese students on internships during the three-month period after their study has finished.

ISIS was established in response to demand from UK businesses for interns with language skills and regional knowledge said Murray.

“The majority of the companies interested in ISIS targeted us because they know we deal with a large number of Chinese students,” Murray said. “We saw demand and we realised this is something that could work on a bigger scale,” he added.

Students will receive CV and cover letter advice and a training workshop as well as an internship in one of several sectors including finance, international trade and tourism, as part of a package costing £1000.

OSSC will place around 20 students in its first intake this February, with the aim to increase to 100 for the July intake and continue to expand each term.

Organisers believe ISIS graduates will also help to forge links abroad, with the option of applying to work in the China branches of the companies where they have interned.

“There are so many Chinese students in the UK and so many UK businesses looking for opportunities in China”

UKTI is currently in the research stages of a pilot scheme similar to ISIS, which places Chinese speaking graduates in British companies. The initial project will be undertaken with the University of Sheffield, with a view to rolling out to other universities in future.

One of the key objectives of The GREAT Ambassador programme is to create lasting links for UK businesses looking to expand in China. It is expected that students will help to develop alumni networks in China and continue to promote trade opportunities for UK companies on their return.

June Sun, Trade Projects Officer on the UKTI’s China Markets Campaigns Unit, told The PIE News: “There are so many Chinese students in the UK and so many UK businesses looking for opportunities in China, so we think this has huge potential for both sides.”

The projected date to enrol students in the scheme has not yet been set.

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