AU students are a hit with business and industry

A new survey shows that employers are keen to work with AU students. And many employers would like to collaborate even more in the future.

[Translate to English:] Prorektor Berit Eika. Foto: Anders Trærup

92% satisfaction.

This statistic would undoubtedly make most managers smile.

It has certainly been a cause for celebration at Aarhus University, where the results of a survey with 1,668 public and private companies have just come in.

In the survey, Epinion asked employers about their views on working with students from Aarhus University, which could include a project placement or a Master’s thesis collaboration.

And among the companies who have worked with AU students, the views were overwhelmingly positive: 92 per cent of companies were happy with the collaboration, and two-thirds of companies actually hired a student once the collaboration had ended.

“This statistic clearly testifies to the fact that we have talented students who are willing to go into a workplace and contribute their knowledge. Two-thirds of the collaboration agreements were reached because students initiated contact with the companies themselves. But the figures are also a sign that AU’s overall efforts to strengthen the business-oriented and practical aspects of degree programmes are going well”, explains Pro-rector Berit Eika, who, as chair of the Committee on Education, led the work on the survey.

Pro-rector: It shows the strength of the Master’s programme

Berit Eika also views the survey results as an indication that the Reform Commission is mistaken in its claim that the Master’s degree programme is primarily designed as a research programme:

“The two-year Master’s degree programme allows students both to explore their subject in depth and to get the opportunity to apply their skills in practice. Now we can see that this combination also benefits employers, and we want more of this – not less. It therefore makes no sense to shorten the Master’s programme from two years to one year, as the commission suggests”.

Still work to do

The Pro-rector also points out that the survey contains a few interesting results that the university will continue to address.

Among companies that have already worked with AU students, more than two-thirds would like to increase their collaboration. At the same time, 40 per cent of companies that do not currently work with AU would like to enter into a collaboration in the future.

“We need to look more closely at the barriers to collaboration so that we can get rid of them. Among other things, this involves preparing the students even better and making the recruitment process for project placements even smoother”, says Berit Eika, who continues:

“Another important task is to ensure that there is a clear gateway to the university – especially for the small and medium-sized companies who are not already familiar with our organisation. We know there is great potential for all parties in this area. In general, small and medium-sized companies hire fewer new employees than large companies, so a project placement can be a really good opportunity to bring new knowledge into the business. For the student, collaborating with a smaller company can often make it possible to take on more responsibility and to engage in tasks that are central for the company”.

According to the pro-rector, the Committee on Education and the Business Committee will now discuss how AU can follow up on the survey results and harness the potential outlined in the report.

Other selected results from the survey:

  • 28% of employers say they would like to collaborate with students from AU within the next year but have not yet established a collaboration.
  • Among the workplaces that already collaborate with students from AU, 65% say that this collaboration was initiated by unsolicited applications from students.
  • For many companies, the main reasons to collaborate are to gain new knowledge and to challenge themselves.
  • Almost one in four workplaces say that their main challenge is finding relevant students. But, at the same time, many workplaces lack knowledge about which students are relevant for them. Workplaces tend to look for students on particular degree programmes, especially those they are already familiar with, but are open to students from most degree programmes.
  • One of the biggest barriers to collaboration is the company’s belief that it does not have the resources to support students during a period of collaboration. The start-up phase of collaboration is particularly resource intensive – especially for project placements.
  • The student’s ability to perform in the workplace is particularly decisive for future employment opportunities. Students who are able to translate theory into practice and to quickly understand how to apply their skills in a business context are the most attractive with regards to future employment.