Study in WalesUniversities in Wales put employability at the heart of the student experience

Universities in Wales put employability at the heart of the student experience

Universities in Wales have a strong reputation for research and teaching and an impressive track record on graduate employability

Students who attend university in Wales should expect a culture of academic excellence at international institutions and a fun, affordable lifestyle in stunning natural surroundings.

The nation of 3.1 million may be small, but it punches well above its weight. The history of higher education in Wales began in 1822 and the country has a long track record of innovation. The hydrogen fuel cell, ball bearing and equals sign are just a few examples of Welsh inventions.

Today, nearly 200 years after the country’s first higher education institution opened its doors, there are around 130,000 students enrolled at Wales’ eight modern universities. Around 22,000 students are international, drawn from 132 countries.

The tradition of groundbreaking research and first-class teaching persists, with Welsh universities offering qualifications that are respected by academics and employers across the world. Four Welsh universities feature in the top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020.

Tracey Marenghi, marketing and communications manager for Study in Wales, says Welsh universities benefit from tight links with their local communities and the fields of business and technology. The country has an enviable record on graduate employability, with over 91 per cent of graduates from Welsh universities employed or in further study six months after they graduate.

“One of the best things about studying in Wales is that employability is at the heart of all of the academic programmes,” Marenghi says. “Universities partner with leading companies, which means students receive the very best career-focused education. As well as the careers services on offer, Welsh universities have ongoing projects available for students each year. A range of volunteering and work-placement opportunities give students the chance to upskill, get outside their comfort zones and really discover their passions.

“Students coming to Wales have one of the highest chances of being offered valuable and relevant jobs after graduating.” 

Rob Alexander, US market manager at Universities Wales, knows first-hand the benefits that can come from studying at a Welsh university. “So many opportunities opened up for me after studying at Swansea University,” he said. “I ended up with an American best friend, and I’ve travelled across the US using contacts that I made. Before I had even finished, I had received a job offer in local government. This was at a time of a global recession. I put that down to my university being focused on employability.”

To support graduating students, universities in Wales offer work experience, careers guidance and opportunities with industry partners.    

Aberystwyth University, for example, boasts the Aber Forward internship scheme, which gives students the opportunity to participate in graduate-level employment while at university. Cardiff Metropolitan University has links with more than 5,000 companies and works to ensure all its courses are focused on industry needs. Students receive training in ethical, digital, global and entrepreneurial skills as part of their study to give them an advantage in the competitive graduate jobs market.

At Swansea University, all students have the opportunity to participate in the Week at Work scheme and have access to the Employability Academy, which is ranked as one of the top five in the UK.

Impressive employability rates are just one reason students are turning to Wales, or Cymru (the nation’s Welsh name). Its universities consistently perform above the UK average for student satisfaction. In the most recent Whatuni Student Choice Awards, Welsh universities took out four places in the UK’s top 15 institutions.

“Student satisfaction rates are high, with many students reflecting positively on their university experience,” Alexander says. “Students have access to high-quality industry links and an array of graduate jobs available for STEM, creative arts, agriculture and business graduates – placing them in the best position for success.”

Satisfaction levels could be about to get even better thanks to an exciting new initiative from the Welsh government. “The new International Learning Exchange programme has been announced in Wales, so from autumn 2022 students studying in Welsh universities, wherever they’ve come from, can take advantage of more opportunities for study, working or volunteering abroad,” Marenghi says.

The other piece of the puzzle that entices students to study in Wales is the unique lifestyle. Compared to many other parts of the UK, the cost of living in Wales is low, with the price of accommodation, shopping and entertainment typically more affordable.

Another key attraction is the country’s landscape. With mountains, valleys, forests and lakes a common sight, around a quarter of Wales lies within one of its many national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Added to this is the warm Welsh welcome students receive. “We promote the warm welcome for students in Wales, and it really is something that is a big factor in making a decision to come and study here,” Marenghi says. “A lot of our universities offer a smaller, more personal community to experience, but of course we have big cities, too, and you are never far from a beach or mountain to climb.” 

With many students understandably concerned about the impact of the pandemic, Welsh universities are working hard to enable learning to take place in a Covid-secure environment.

“The situation with the pandemic is constantly evolving and we understand students’ worries,” Marenghi says. “Our universities will support you and help with any queries or information you may need. They are well advanced in their planning to welcome students this autumn, and new and returning students can be confident that they can benefit from a high-quality university experience.”  

“Wales offers students not only the possibility of an amazing university experience, but a prosperous future, too,” Marenghi says. “It’s never too late to think about Wales as a study destination for you.”

Find out more about studying in Wales.

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