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WRIPA Director, Dr Andrew Mizumori-Hirst, shared the University of York’s experience of creating an equitable physics year in industry programme within the School of Physics Engineering and Technology at the Advance HE Employability Symposium 2024, Leeds, UK

The Symposium focused on distilling the ‘3Es’ of employability, enterprise, and entrepreneurship and provided a space to discuss and share latest practices in embedding employability. 

Dr Mizumori-Hirst outlined in his presentation that 12 month placements are one of the best activities a student can undertake to develop their future employability as well as support social mobility. However, developing a scalable and equitable placements programme is a big challenge when the student body is diverse. 

“The presentation explored the barriers to achieving a scalable programme and what we’ve learnt that’s changed the way we provide employability support and guidance for students.” Dr Mizumori-Hirst 

The York WRIPA team is working with the university’s Access and Participation Monitoring and Evaluation Team to evaluate whether the placement programme is equitable for all physics students. Analysis of the data from 2016-23 shows that the demography of registered students on the physics year in industry programme reflects the student body. However, there are significant drops in students with a disability, from an ethnic minority or from a lower POLAR 4 background who go onto successfully secure placements. 

“It was also a chance to share with the symposium details of our in-progress initiatives to address this inequitable challenge and highlight aspects of our work that have failed and lessons learnt.” Dr Mizumori-Hirst 

The presentation also addressed the impact of intersectionality and how social-psychological factors influence self-concept (e.g. self-perception of ability) in students successfully applying for and securing placements.