Leading the way…

Scholarships are just one of many ways in which York works with individuals, friends and industry contacts to ensure that the University can provide funding and development opportunities for all students.

In our last issue we announced the fantastic news that philanthropist and businessman Lord Irvine Laidlaw of Rothiemay has invited the University of York to join the fledgling Laidlaw Leadership and Research Scholarship programme. This aims to improve the leadership skills and increase the employability of York graduates. The programme will provide 25 of the most exceptional York undergraduate students with the opportunity to undertake a summer research project and to participate in high-level leadership training, as well as receiving a scholarship award of around £6,000.

York Award Leaders event held in the Law and Management School building in 2016.

York is committed to growing the careers support available to our student and graduate community, working with alumni, donors and industry to ensure that our graduates have all the skills they need to become active members and leaders of the future.

Value of a placement year

Focusing on employability, the University of York Careers department has also recently announced two new initiatives aimed at boosting the skills of its students and graduates. The ‘with a placement year’ programme allows any student to include a year in the workplace within their degree including, for the first time, those reading arts and humanities. ‘York Futures’, meanwhile, focuses on bringing first years into the careers structure with a summer term programme of online tests and ‘development days’. According to the Careers department, this initiative is the first of its kind at any Russell Group university.

The University hopes that these initiatives will make students consider their future employment much earlier on in their time at university, and counter the narrative that when it comes to careers, ‘first year doesn’t matter’. ‘York Futures’ is currently in its pilot year – first year students who have applied to be part of this year’s York Award (about 700) will all go through the programme at the end of the summer term, before it is rolled out for everyone in the 2017/18 academic year.

The new programme involves students sitting numerical reasoning and situational judgement tests online, before taking part in ‘development days’ designed by an external specialist company. Andrew Ferguson, Assistant Director for External Engagement at the Careers department, said: “York Futures is being designed alongside a range of employers, and is intended to help students at the end of their first year acquire a sense of career direction for the remaining two years of their time at York. It will help to ensure they don’t miss out on the wide range of personal development opportunities available to them.”

Revamped York Award

In conjunction with these initiatives, the University is also revamping the York Award – a personal development award that began in 1998. From 2017/18, the York Award will have three classifications: the standard York Award, open to all first years and postgraduate students; York Award Gold, open to all second years, and postgraduate students who completed their undergraduate degrees in York; and York Award Leaders. The last of these classifications, currently in its pilot year, seeks to identify future leaders and comes complete with an intensive three day training programme alongside graduate recruiters.

When asked about his hopes for the programmes, University of York registrar David Duncan said: “The evidence shows that those who undertake placements and other forms of work experience significantly increase their chances of being appointed to professional jobs after graduation, so we intend to augment the number of opportunities of this kind available to York students.”

Leaders for the future

York Award Leaders is a programme for a selected group of students with leadership potential.  Specialist trainers will deliver a programme of workshops and seminars aimed at developing your leadership skills in a very practical way, and employers and alumni will also be offering their expertise. The programme will launch officially in autumn 2017.  All applicants to York Award Gold in 2017 will be invited to apply for the York Award Leaders Programme.