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AGCAS research into students' experience of careers fairs

In 2015, the universities of Birmingham, Royal Holloway and Salford took part in a pilot project run by members of the AGCAS Research Group. The research sought to gain a better understanding of what students gain from careers fairs in terms of information-gathering, opportunities for self-reflection, concrete links to employers, and applications and interview advice.

The pilot study was a valuable opportunity to test out the research across institutions and compare responses between them. Having piloted the research survey, its design has been simplified and four more universities have also volunteered: there will be seven participating institutions in the 2016-2017 academic year. The full pilot study is available to AGCAS members for download below.

Key findings from the pilot study

The four fairs surveyed in the pilot were all very different and not many employers appeared in more than one fair. The students who attended the fairs varied too (eg, in a science and technology fair there were significantly more male students than female students). However, there were similar findings from each university, which might suggest a national pattern of careers fairs.

The following themes were all drawn from the study, many of which will be unpacked further in future research:

• The key motivation for students to attend a careers fair is to get useful information about opportunities and graduate jobs.

• Graduates and undergraduates in years three and four generally have higher expectations of careers fairs than undergraduates in years one and two.

• International students have higher expectations of careers fairs than UK students.

• Female and male students and students from different academic disciplines have different expectations of careers fairs.

• Although the majority of the students who attended careers fairs reported that they took away useful information, there were gaps between their expectations and their experience.

• Careers fairs contribute to a 'reality check' moment for some.

• The employers who provided the most useful information won the students' favour rather than those who had the flashiest stand or best freebies.

  • AGCAS Careers Fair Pilot Survey Summary downloads

    • Careers Fair Pilot Survey Summary (2015) (Locked)

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Tags: employer student recruitment graduate careers fair AGCAS AGCAS Research University careers fair

Created on: 14 September 2016

Last updated: 14 September 2016

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