Case study by Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University, (MMU) is working with Placer, a unique work experience platform and app developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business and launched in partnership with Jisc and Unite Students. As the first university to support Placer, MMU is a trailblazer university in the endeavour to revolutionise the way that students can access work experience.

For many students, work experience opportunities can be instrumental when it comes to improving graduate outcomes. Such opportunities challenge students’ perceptions of the workplace and build a sense of what is possible for their future careers. It exposes undergraduates to a workplace culture, which may be very different to the educational setting they have experienced.

Not all students seek the more established ‘year in industry’ model characterised by four-year sandwich degree programmes. Many universities are looking at alternative models that offer the same high quality experience sought, but which are also more accessible to the wider student body who seek such opportunities in parallel to their studies.

This has particular significance to those students who may have the potential and talent to succeed in an increasingly competitive labour market, but who lack the insight and connections that exposure to the world of work offers.


The development of Placer recognises that something has to change. Schools, colleges and universities broadly acknowledge the value of work experience. Many employers recognise that work experience is not just about talent spotting, it is also about investing in the development of the skills required by the Industrial Strategy. Manchester Metropolitan University recognised that Placer offers a vehicle that can transform how we connect students with work experience opportunities.


Against this background, demand is likely to exceed current supply. Through Placer, NCUB have the potential to leverage their membership and the supply chain to stimulate the increase in opportunities required. This additionality we considered essential to the success of Placer and we were encouraged that NCUB recognised that this would be sensitive to our sense of place within the regional economy and the needs of our students.


Work experience helps students develop confidence and a positive attitude to the workplace, giving students a clearer picture of where their studies can take them.

It is critical that students feel engaged with employability initiatives that are taken. At Manchester Metropolitan University, we ensured that our students contributed at concept stage and were able to provide feedback through development.

Everyone has a role to play in improving access to work experience; universities, employers and most importantly students. It is therefore crucial that the offer of work experience is made in such a way that captures the interest of students via a medium that will inspire and encourage their engagement. Bringing work experience directly to the student is how we see real change and progress being made.

NCUB are committed through Placer to help achieve this and we believe that Placer will allow universities to work more closely with a wider range of employers to bring a greater volume of work experience opportunities, directly to the student.

Manchester Metropolitan University are dedicated to the ongoing employability of our students and are pleased to partner with NCUB and Placer to help achieve our strategic goals and ensure the success of our students.


Published: 10 September, 2018


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.