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Revealed – most internships go un-taken – 17 September 2016

8 November 2016

OVER half of university students turn down the internships they are offered, a huge industry survey has revealed.

Some 55% of UK students are offered an internship or work placement during their undergraduate degree, the Unite Students Insight Report: Employability reveals.

But 51% of these students decline the offer.

Internships became a political topic when former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused “sharp-elbowed” parents of winning placements for their own offspring, while others who did not have the same contacts could not.

The Unite Students Insight Report, conducted for Unite Students by NUS Services Research Department, surveyed over 8,500 university applicants, students and postgraduates.

Top reasons for turning down internships:

  • 26% “I don’t want to delay my graduation”
  • 14% “It will cost me too much”
  • 11% “I don’t have the confidence”
  • 10% “I haven’t got the time”
  • 10% “I don’t know what career I want”

Unite Students’ student experience director John Blanshard said:

“We know that students are very concerned about their future employability, and that work experience is something they value. 

Yet half are not taking up the opportunities they are offered. There is clearly more work to be done to explore the barriers preventing some students from participating in work experience.”

Other findings include

  • Nearly half of current students (46%) believe getting the job they want at the end of their degree will be either “challenging” or “impossible”
  • That pessimism has doubled in two years
  • Only two in five students say they have used their university careers service

Unite Students is home to 45,000 students in 133 properties across 28 UK towns and cities. It has a business purpose of providing a ‘Home for Success’ to its students.

‘Success’ in this sense could mean academic success, personal growth or 

preparation for the world of work.

All three Unite Student Insight Reports can be found on