Business students unhappy with INTRA programme

Business students have expressed their unhappiness with the 12-month DCU INTRA placement programme, in which they work full-time for a company in a related field. The most common complaint was having to pay the full registration fee despite not attending college during the academic year.

While many students indicated they had no problems, others complained that they did not receive a visit from a tutor or DCU staff member despite a visit being one of the assessment measures of the programme.

One student described the programme as “providing firms with a year’s cheap labour”.

Other complaints included students receiving visits from staff members from an irrelevant area of expertise, while there was a general feeling among those who complained that the university had forgotten about them during their placements.

Head of the INTRA Unit, Maeve Long, said that if students were not getting visits, it was an issue for the individual schools and not the INTRA office. “We implement what the school has asked us to implement. The tutor visits are an issue for the (individual) schools”, she told The College View.

“We can’t obviously force them (the staff members) to do visits. We respectfully request that as part of the INTRA programme the student should be visited while on placement but obviously if an academic decides they’re not going to do the visit then there’s not a huge amount we can do about that.

“We can go back to the academic and ask them to do the visit and they can either say yes or no. If they say no we can’t frog march them out to the company.”

One final year student told The College View that despite making strenuous efforts to contact his tutor, he was unable to make contact and did not receive a visit during his 10-month placement.

“Once you go on INTRA, contact with DCU is non-existent aside from the single visit”, he said. “While I enjoyed my experience I felt that I learned little and there seemed to be very little interaction between DCU and my employer.

“While I know it is my own responsibility to make the most of the placement, I think DCU should be checking with employers to verify that the students are having a worthwhile experience.

“I don’t want to make out I had serious issues with the year. I just feel that DCU could be doing more to ensure students are getting the most from their placements and not just providing firms with a year’s cheap labour.”

Another student said: “I wouldn’t mind paying fees for having INTRA organise the whole process of getting a job for us but not the full €2,000 or more.

“It seems like an easy way to get money off students during the work placement.”

“I emailed my tutor a number of times but never heard anything back from him. I got on to the INTRA office who gave me more contact details for him but I had no luck. It made me think I might have been better off taking a year out and doing my own work experience, and then returning to do my final year in DCU”, the student said.

The DCU fees office said the year long placement is part of the continuous degree and to be a student of the university, the full registration fee must be paid. Students on the programme do not have access to services such as the library, IT support or any of the pastoral care services offered by DCU.

Last year the student contribution fee for all DCU students, including those on 12 month INTRA programme, was €2,258.

Sam Griffin

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