The benefits of a University ‘Year in the Field’

A ‘sandwich year’, ‘year out’, ‘study abroad’, ‘work experience’, call it what you will , many universities encourage their students to consider spending their third year “out in the field”. This time can be spent gaining industrial experience through a work placement, studying abroad or a combination of the two. In this blog, we look at how a ‘ year in the field’ could be an amazing part of your university experience.

university year in the field industry

A number of UK universities including Edinburgh, Exeter, Bath, Lancaster and Loughborough, UWE and Oxford Brookes particularly encourage students to take advantage of the four year degree with a ‘sandwich year’. So what are the benefits?

What are the benefits of a University year in the field?

A key benefit of a sandwich year as part of your undergraduate degree is that it enables you to put into practice some of the things you’ve learnt in your first two years at University. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to come back with practical experience, a proven employment track record and a strong CV,  ready for applying for your first graduate job. It is not unheard of for employers to use this as an opportunity to vet future candidates, so could even lead to a permanent position!

International experience, whether or not you are studying languages, has been shown to contribute to both a students’ individual experience and their employability. In addition to the academic learning, you will be able to immerse yourself in a new culture, improve your fluency in a language and improve your confidence when faced with a new environment. It also shows that you have got the ‘get up and go’ to try something new and that you are not afraid of a challenge.


Considering a year in industry to improve your employability? We can help find the right course for you. Get in touch today.

So what are your options for studying abroad?

There are two opportunities to seek a year studying abroad.

The first is the Erasmus scheme which allows you to study at well-respected partner Universities in Europe as part of your degree programme. Funded by the European Commission, it is a well-established scheme that allows you to gain full academic credit for the courses that you undertake whilst abroad.

There are also many opportunities for a period of study further afield with opportunities for international study programmes at Universities all over the world, from Australia to the USA to Singapore.

For example, King’s College London has international partnerships with a wide range of Universities including  The University of North Carolina at Chapel , the National University of Singapore, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brasil  and the University of Sydney

Similarly, The University of Edinburgh has more than 300 partners in 40 countries worldwide. You can read more about their exchange destinations here.

university year in the field study abroad

Benefits of studying abroad:

  • Brilliant life experience and opportunity to step outside your comfort zone
  • Develop and improve your language fluency
  • Opportunity to experience a new culture and broaden your horizons
  • Become part of an international community with friends all over the world
  • Gain new experiences which will make your CV stand out


Things to consider:

  • It can be lonely so be prepared to need a get up and go attitude
  • You will experience culture shock but learn to accept the bad bits
  • You might miss out an experiences with friends who only do a three year course

A student’s perspective:

“I absolutely loved my year abroad! From a degree point of view it was crucial for becoming truly fluent in the language and being able to pick up on cultural things too!

Then from a personal point of view I got so much out of it…meeting new people and lots of new experiences. It forced me to be open to different things and ways of living/doing things so I definitely think it made me more relaxed in general about things.

I suppose it was a non-negotiable part of my degree and so necessary to get my job as a language teacher, but even if I chose a different career it gives you so many more experiences to draw upon so would be hugely beneficial!

At first when I came back I worried I wouldn’t have any friends, but I’d kept in touch with people in theatre/music groups from other years so that wasn’t a problem (but important to mix with people from different years/courses so you have friends when you come back) but I would definitely recommend it.”

Jess Garrett, MFL, University of Cambridge

Considering a degree with a study abroad programme? Get in touch to see how we can help you find the right fit for you.

So what are your options for a year in industry?

Many degree programmes offer the opportunity for an industrial/professional placement year.

During this placement year, you will gain valuable experience from working with relevant businesses to your degree on a local, national or even global scale.

This placement year provides a unique opportunity to gain experience from working in industry and improving your employability. You will gain many skills relevant to your chosen industry, plus many companies often offer employment after graduation.

university year in the field work experience

Benefits of a Sandwich Year:

  • Brilliant life experience and opportunity to step outside your comfort zone
  • An edge when it comes to applying for your first graduate job
  • Insight into future careers and employment in your chosen field
  • Development of skills to support your final year of study
  • Insight into how your practical knowledge is applied in the work place


Things to consider:

  • How much support does your chosen university offer in finding a placement?
  • How much variety is available?
  • How much support is given during the placement?
  • What are the fees to your university whilst on placement?
  • Will you be paid whilst on the placement?
  • Are you graded and assessed on the placement as part of your degree?

Student perspectives:

“The year was a great opportunity to be exposed to the working world and build strong relationships with the people within the company. I still keep in touch with the majority of my team and regard them as friends as well as useful contacts for the future. I was treated as an equal in the team and given as much responsibility as everyone else – I believe this was hugely important for my development.”

Katie Booth,  Exeter University, Economics and Finance Major: World First Placement


“During the year I had the opportunity to rotate and was exposed to many aspects of the business. This was very interesting as I was exposed to the intricacies of Amazon’s operations. Although the company is huge, I was given a lot of autonomy in the work that I did and was given freedom to choose who to interact with in a project that I was given. The skills that I gained from communicating and working with people from across Amazon’s global network in the project, will be very useful in my future career.”

Oliver James, Exeter University- Economics Major: Amazon Placement


Other articles that may interest you:

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