Hugh Roberts found three months helping to build school classrooms in Tanzania complemented perfectly his degree in third world and development studies at Coventry University.
As well as the experience of working and encountering a new culture in a third world country, he learned the art of fundraising and of working in a team, sometimes under testing conditions.
"It was hard because it was so hot out there. But I learned how to be focused and also to handle myself in group situations. I gained a lot," he said.
But some of his friends, who also expressed an interest in the programme run by Health Projects Abroad, felt they couldn't afford to take part. "A lot of them were busy saving to go to university and didn't feel they had the time for this," he said.
Andy Wright, an environmental science student
at Leeds University, said many of his friends envied him as he prepared to travel to Tanzania.
But most felt they could not afford the time, even though they realised the experience might help their job applications. "Some of my friends in the past have travelled all around the world after graduating but most of them feel now they have to go straight into work," he said.
Despite the pressure of his final degree year, he thinks he will be rewarded for taking the challenge. "Just the fundraising should help me develop some transferable skills," he said.