Never mind Ernst & Young, what about MI5?

Seeking sponsorship is a minefield filled with filled with disgruntled graduates

Making a phone call to MI5 is easier than you might think. There is a contact number on their website which puts you through to a main switchboard. If you convince the operator that you are worth listening to, they will pass you on to a recruitment advisor. Mine was called “Phil”. He sounded like he had joined MI5 to be a spy, not to speak to students about sponsorship and advertising.

Nevertheless, Phil listened patiently. I asked him if MI5 would be interested in advertising in York campus media. “For what purpose?”, he responded . “Well”, I said, “I was wondering if MI5 looks to recruit York graduates .” It was a long shot, but he passed me onto a London agency which deals with MI5’s advertising. I left a message and, unsurprisingly, didn’t hear back.

The truth is that big companies – along with MI5 – aren’t really interested in York students.
Matt Oliver, Vanbrugh Chair, has had experience trying to gain sponsorship. He was consistently given the same message: the ideas you propose look excellent, but York is not one of our “target” universities. Thanks, but no thanks.

Companies, it seems, are impressed by what we do here, but that rarely seems to translate into anything meaningful -money, in other words. So, why are we not a “target” university?
The answer lies in the employability league tables. They are calculated by looking where students are a year after they graduate. Because many of us end up to doing postgraduate degrees, the figures don’t do us justice – postgrads may as well be on the dole.

There are other factors too. Our student population is small. Why should an investment bank focus on our university which has 185 economists, when they can focus on Leeds which has its own Business School? The solution to this, of course, is to expand – one thing the university seems to have right.

Perhaps it is also what we are studying. There are almost three times as many History students here than there are Computer scientists, and I think most of us agree that computer scientists are more immediately employable.

York must improve its reputation for producing employable graduates. Second only to academic excellence, the university’s aim must be to produce ambitious professionals. The university and YUSU could place more emphasis on how employable we actually are. Why not publish figures for how York students are doing three years after graduating – when they are safely done with postgraduate degrees.

It is everyone’s interest for us to be employable – our future jobs will reflect the quality our university education. And besides, we don’t all want to end up as recruitment advisors to MI5.

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