Aston University

Levelling the playing field through work-based learning

Led by Aston University, 'Levelling the Playing Field' is about using the power of placements to reduce the gap in differential graduate employment outcomes.

Across the participating institutions in the project, analysis showed differential outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), low-socioeconomic status (SES) and disabled graduates in terms of graduate employment. This aligned with HEFCE's findings.

With recent research at Aston University showing the positive moderating impact of placements on differential outcomes, this project brings together four institutions over the two year project:

  • Aston University
  • Birmingham City University
  • City, University of London
  • Ulster University.

Year one

In year one the project will scale up existing interventions that are proven to support increased take-up of placement and work-based learning (WBL). The specific focus will be to engage hard to reach groups, through targeting specific courses, tailored communications, and using additional people on the ground to maximise reach. 

The five interventions are:

  • Professional mentoring
  • Micro placements
  • Recruitment matching service
  • Speed recruitment events
  • Embedded employability modules.

Year two

In year two the project will look at the transferability of our institutional interventions, using a buddy scheme to allow each of the partners to ‘test’ how replicable the interventions are. This will identify critical success factors, and any barriers to success. These findings will be used to develop a sector toolkit, to support increases in engagement in placements and work based learning more widely.

The ultimate success measure is closing the differential graduate employment gap, but as data on this will be deferred beyond the project duration, the project will be using three proxy measures, which will give ‘real-time’ indications of impact:

  • A pre- and post-intervention survey
  • Careers registration progression
  • Changes in levels of placement and WBL take-up.

Project details

Over the project duration the aim is to engage 1,800 students in the interventions, leading to increased placement and WBL take-up, and ultimately supporting positive graduate employment outcomes for our BAME, low SES and disabled students, closing the graduate employment gap.

Catalyst funding  £420,000
Total project funding  £971,800
Project Lead contact name  Rachel McIntosh
Project Lead contact email  [email protected]
Project Lead contact telephone  0121 204 4763 

Project partner contact details 

Birmingham City University Shanna Hardy [email protected]
City, University of London Mona Vadher [email protected]
Ulster University Shauna McCloy [email protected] 

Describe your experience of using this website

Improve experience feedback
* *

Thank you for your feedback