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Careers Exploration

Sandwich Courses - It’s all in the filling!

Most of you intending to go to university are looking at full-time courses lasting three years, but what of sandwich courses? Now available in an increasing range of subjects, they appear to offer the welcome benefits of a year working for a potential employer, as well as lower graduation debt.

The first thing to say is the reason that sandwich courses last four years is because there is a year taken gaining real employment experience. Secondly, the days of sandwich courses being mainly for those who are studying a technological or engineering discipline are long gone. There are a huge range of subjects that are now offered in both 3 year full-time and four year sandwich course formats. So what are the advantages of the sandwich course?


Nearly every undergraduate or university applicant states that their main reason for studying for a degree is to obtain a better paid and more rewarding job and career. Thus the concept of taking a year of your course working in the industry or career of your choice gaining real experience, can be really appealing. Add to this the prospect of being paid during that year and being able to enter your final year with less debt, then this appeal increases.

There is also the huge advantage sandwich course students have over their full-time colleagues (and rivals for jobs upon graduation), of developing a positive and meaningful relationship with an employer. At the very least, the new sandwich course graduate has a C.V that already includes relevant industry and employment experience, with that important relevant employer reference. So how do you select a good sandwich course?

Choosing a Sandwich Course

This should be no more difficult than choosing a full-time course. Use the same disciplines in researching individual courses; look at their ranking and what their graduate employment rates are like for example. It would also be sensible to ask what employers are linked with the individual course and how many of that particular course’s graduates are subsequently offered full jobs.

A real test as to the quality of any sandwich course might be to ask what type of placements are available and how established and successful their placement unit is. One leading provider of management courses that we know of, now offers all of their courses in sandwich form.

As far as what subjects and courses are offered in the sandwich format, the choice is larger than ever and growing all the time. You can now choose the sandwich format in a wide range of service sector subjects such as business, hospitality, retailing, marketing, and a wide range of management courses. This is in addition to IT, Computing, and the wide range of technological and engineering courses that some would say, pioneered sandwich courses.


The graduate employment prospects of those who have studied on a sandwich course appear to be correspondingly higher than average. The ability to show an employer relevant professional or industry experience is a big plus. Similarly, the ability to start ‘networking’ with employers whilst still studying can be an additional advantage. In one case we know of, an employer has gone as far as to offer sandwich course students placed with themselves some extra financial support in their final year.

So what are you waiting for? Sandwich courses can offer better employment prospects, the ability to earn whilst you learn and a chance to build experience and expertise that will make your future success more likely.

Career Advisor gratefully acknowledges the help and advice given to prepare this article, in particular Michael Blishen of the School of Services Management at the university of Bournemouth.






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